Everyone seems to think Izzy is fine, but she’s not. Izzy and her mother’s life with Daniel had a fairytale beginning. The fairytale fractured a long time ago but Izzy’s mother can’t/won’t protect them.
And I get that she’s scared, cos me too. But I’ve been here before, watching her literally throw away some problem she can’t handle.
Then there’s Jacob from college, who’s blackmailing her by threatening to send photos from that night to everyone.
Izzy used to rely heavily on her best friend, Grace, for support but now that Grace is in love she’s not as available as she used to be. Even when they are spending time together Grace is preoccupied by being in love with being in love. There’s so much pressure building up inside Izzy and she feels alone.
If I thought it would make any difference, I would scream.
It’s been weeks since I finished reading this book but this is the first time I’ve actually been able to attempt anything approximating a review. This book was really well written and relatable. Some of its content hit very close to home for me, as if someone told it my address, so alongside my yeah, me too’s came emotions. So many emotions. I thought time and some emotional distance would help me write a well thought out, intellectual review, but it didn’t work that way so I’m afraid we’re all stuck with my feelings.
Not that you can love anything about the impacts of trauma but I did love the way I felt validated as I read. Whenever Izzy described the shame she felt or her self doubt or flashbacks or any other number of experiences that I’ve felt in the core of my being I wanted to somehow surgically remove those things from her. I knew what she was feeling and I knew her thoughts, often before she explained them to me.
But it doesn’t leave you. Even when your head tries to silence it, it’s still there.
I loved the concept of the Jar of Sunshine, even though its beauty was marred by its origin story. Unfortunately, even it was realistic; the ways we cope with trauma are inextricably linked with painful memories. Even if we find something that gives us strength, courage or a glimmer of hope in the midst of unbearable circumstances, that wonderful thing still reminds us of what it’s helping us to overcome.
I quite liked Rower Boy but I desperately wanted Izzy and Rower Boy to simply be friends. I always have trouble with narratives that includes a girl/woman who’s dealing with trauma being saved in any way by a boy/man, even if it’s only a little. That probably says more about me than it does about the book. However, I wanted Izzy to learn to stand on her own, without leaning on a man for support. I would have been happy for her to have gotten into a relationship once she’d had some counselling but I didn’t want any part of her self worth to be tangled up in Rower Boy, regardless of how nice he was.
This is a difficult read but an important one. If you have experienced abuse please be safe while reading this book.
‘What he did is not who you are, Izzy. It doesn’t define you.’
Content warnings include abortion, domestic violence, emotional abuse, fat shaming, grooming, mention of abuse of an animal, physical abuse, sexual assault, slut shaming and verbal abuse.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Rock the Boat, an imprint of Oneworld Publications, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
No one has ever asked Izzy what she wants. She’s about to change all that …
In a house adept at sweeping problems under the carpet, seventeen-year-old Izzy feels silenced. As her safety grows uncertain, Izzy know three things for sure. She knows not to tell her mother that Jacob Mansfield has been threatening to spread those kinds of photos around college. She knows to quiet the grief that she’s been abandoned by her best friend Grace. And, seeing her mother conceal the truth of her stepdad’s control, Izzy also knows not to mention how her heart splinters and her stomach churns whenever he enters a room.
When the flimsy fabric of their life starts to unravel, Izzy and her mum must find their way out of the silence and use the power in their voices to rediscover their worth.