Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair, published and available to purchase.
Read: September 2014
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Source: Book Tour – this does not affect my opinion of the book.
Synopsis: Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson’s life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her. Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.
Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City, and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can’t let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm’s length. But by the time Rex’s charm wears down her resistance, it’s too late. He’s put Ellen on the “just friends” shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened. With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it’s the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.
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I’ll admit – the cover was the first thing that drew me to this book, it looks professional and vibrant, it stood out for me when I received the tour request. This was a very worthwhile read, it tackles some serious issues in an honest manner – sometimes honest enough to make me feel a little uncomfortable. But then, I had to remind myself that we’re human, and this book discussed genuine human responses to these issues. I’m happy with how this book ended, at times I felt apprehensive that this may not go the way the reader wants (I’m looking at you Tease), but it was a well written, and well rounded novel. I grinned a lot during the last chapter.
I felt a strong connection to the main character, Ellen, and I loved the slow-build relationship between her and Rex. Though, I will admit that at times I wanted to scream at the two of them, and bang their heads together, if only to get to the good stuff already! Sometimes the relationship felt too slow-moving, but again, as readers we can get impatient for things to happen, that do take more time to develop in real life. I really “got” the sense of humour in this story, and I really liked the banter between Rex and Ellen. I also enjoyed St. Clair’s writing style, as seen in my favourite quotes below. Overall, this was a decent and solid contemporary read, and a great debut!
“Boys and girls,” he shakes his head, “they aren’t friends, not really, unless they’re both gay. At least one of you is in the friendship because you want more from the other, but you either can’t or won’t ask for what you want.”
Regret is an ugly companion and I’m really tired of its company.
“You’re lonely just like the rest of us. You want to be admired and adored, just like the rest of us.” He leans in, and in a lower voice adds,”And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
About the Author:
Iris St. Clair is the pen-name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day and a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night (her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that’s another bio). No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes, able to break through to the gooey heart inside.
In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding. Iris believes in the two-year “fish or cut bait” dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenage sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.