Before I start I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. Doing so does not sway my feelings on the rating of a book whatsoever.
As I read this book, there were times when I wondered just where this book was going. There were accusations of Arien being the controlling boyfriend, but it seemed that Melissa had her own agenda at times. It really seemed, for the majority of the book, that Melissa had gone on a separate path on her own accord. It wasn't until about 3/4 of the way through that the reader got the sense that Arien was really playing her for the fool.
The book touches on a lot of hot topics that girls deal with. Anorexia, sex, abusive relationships, depression, alcohol abuse and the want to fit in with everyone else. Spoken through the voice of a teenager, at times thoughts are a bit muddled but it stays in sync with the way the characters are behaving.
As stated, this is based on a true story. How much of it is true and how much is fiction, I do not know. I would hope though that if any adult found out what another adult was doing with a minor, they would immediately take that to the authorities instead of just letting it go. The author does rope you into the story though and you want to know what is going to happen next. Suddenly you find the abuser being the abused and wonder what happened earlier in that persons life that made them that way.
You get to know Melissa, Arien, Sandy and everyone else. You also wonder where the hell all the parents are while everything is going on. Melissa's parents being the ones that you do get to see and know are around, but the fact is, that if everyone's parents had been present in their children's lives this story would have never occurred, at least not to these characters. Arien would not have turned out the way he did, Melissa would have met and known nothing but the sweet boy he was meant to be and nobody would have been hurt. You also wanted to shake up the kids though to wake them up. If you see or know of someone going down the wrong path, help them. Yes, they need to want that help, but the longer it takes with intervention, the harder it will be for them to want the help.
Melissa goes from an A student, cheerleader to a confused, barely there, near alcoholic and she suddenly becomes the young person with an old soul that you meet in the diners that you wonder, what happened to that person for them to become so low on life. You know the ones I'm talking about.
I recommend this to readers 13 and above. The situations involved in this book are not for the younger kids, but are right in line for the middle schooler's because these situations are becoming more apparent in peers and hopefully the story will stay with them through all the tough times so they can hopefully avoid the Arien's out there and stay true to themselves.