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Saturday, 29 July 2017

ARC Review: Juniper Limits by Lora Richardson


Book: Juniper Limits, Lora Richardson
Series: Juniper series #2
Publisher: Kindle
Release Date: July 10th, 2017

Celia has spent her life waiting for the next crisis. When the tension at home begins to ease, she wonders if she’ll finally be able to relax. Her father has stopped drinking, her cousin Fay has moved back to Juniper, and it seems like Paul might really care about her. But trust is an uphill battle for Celia, fighting against doubt the whole way.

Paul has been drawn to Celia for as long as he can remember, and she is finally giving him a chance to show her how he feels. But when Celia can’t stop worrying everything will fall apart, and when things in Paul’s own life take a turn for the worse, can they learn to rely on each other?

 I got the first book in this series last year by the author and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. So when Lora contacted me recently and asked if I was interested in the sequel, I jumped at the chance to get back into the small town of Juniper with these characters that are so easy to love.
This book, just like the first book, deals with quite difficult themes. Some of these I am really able to relate to as it’s something my family – in particular my mother – has lived through.

My mother married a man who was an alcoholic. My father. Even though she made sure he never drank around me and my siblings, it was still something she had to live with for the ten years they were married. The reason she stayed with him for so long was because she had three young children and she didn’t have the funds to be able to raise us by herself. So even though I never experienced the violence that can arise from being an alcoholic, it was still in my house. After my mother left my father, she met someone new, and he became an alcoholic too. However; this story ended happily because my stepfather was given the choice: my mother, or the drink. He chose wisely, and has stopped drinking, and they are very happy together. But, in a way, because of this, I feel I know more than ever just how strong my mother is. She’s already the strongest woman I know; my role model. And I understand what she’s lived through – twice. And this book has made me realise that there are other families with members that struggle with alcoholism or any type of dangerous addiction, and all they do is make excuses for them, because they love them, and not realise that they are living in a dangerous situation that they need to get out, but can’t because they are unable to afford to move out.

Celia lives a life never expecting good things to stay. She’s never experienced good things in the long term. She lives in a constant state of anxiety, trying to protect her mother and brother from her father’s drunken rages or waiting for the next one to happen. So when it looks like something good – aka Paul – wants to stay with her in the long term, Celia doesn’t trust it. She expects him to run, and when he doesn’t, she runs instead.

I loved how realistic the author wrote these characters too. How Celia dealt with her situation at home and her feelings toward hope and trust were completely authentic. Even the way she felt toward her parents rang true. She hated her father, but also loved him. And I completely understand that as I felt the exact same about my father. It’s something completely confusing to feel, especially when you’re only sixteen years old. Celia is also growing up in a household where feelings aren’t acknowledged; they aren’t talked about, there’s no hugging – they just pretend the bad things aren’t happening and they make excuses for them. So she regards feelings as something to be ignored and to push them away.

“We didn’t talk freely about the way things were at our house. We danced around it. We spoke in code. We made declarations about our behavior and hatched plans that we thought might help. But we never talked about how it made us feel.”

She thinks she’ll go through life expecting the worst, and attempts to pick fights by being snappy and rude because it’s what she’s used to in her family. My heart broke for her. I knew this was happening in the first book too, but reading it in Celia’s point of view is much harder and I feel for her much more deeply than I did in the first book. These themes are incredibly serious and very delicate to handle but I think the author handled them in a fantastic way.

Paul – the long term best friend turned romantic interest – was the best possible person for Celia and he helped her break out of her shell and start looking for the good in life instead of the bad. He understood her situation as he had an unorthodox one with his own mother, who struggled with depression and addiction problems. Between the two of them, they slowly began to trust each other and learn to rely on others as well – that it’s okay to ask for help, sometimes.

If you enjoy contemporary books, small town settings, realistic (if too serious) themes and situations, then you’ll love this. But I would recommend reading The Edge of Juniper, the first in this duology, before this one.

Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the author in exchange an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

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