Wednesday 17 April 2013

In the Stillness by Andrea Randall

Reviewed by Donna 5 big fat shiny stars 

AMAZEBALLS…such a raw, emotional and powerful book, that had me in tears A LOT!! I have taken a while to write this review as I was just too emotional, it actually hurt to read this book, but boy was I glad I did.

This book follows the life of Natalie, she is a cutter…this in itself leads me into unchartered territory, sure I have read about it in books before but this book dragged you into her thoughts, her emotions, her life and mental wellbeing and sometimes it was not pretty.
I will start at the beginning, in college Natalie fell in love with a boy, the kind of head over heels in love and the feeling was entirely mutual, he was in the National Guard. After a few months of dating 9/11 happened and Ryker was sent off to war..he watched his best friend die in his arms and got shot trying to rescue him but it was too late. Ryker was sent home..but what came home….
“His body came home, but his soul had been devoured in the firefight of a godless desert”
Ryker had a bad case of PTSD, he was not the same when he came home, they tried to make it work but Ryker needed help and he was not willing to go and get it, so even though she loved him with all her being, she had to let him go.
Years later whilst in Uni doing her degree, Natalie meets Eric, they begin a relationship…was she ever in love him, I don’t think so, her heart never really belonged to anyone other than Ryker..but Eric loved her. An unplanned pregnancy puts a spanner in the works, Natalie wanted an abortion but Eric manages to persuade her to keep going, he will continue getting his doctorate and then once they are financially settled she can go back to hers, however that could never be the case as hers requires lots of travelling and with twins on the way she knew deep down that she would never get there. She felt like that she had sacrificed everything and he had sacrificed nothing. The story picks up where the twins are nearly 5 years old and about to start kindergarten, Eric works long hours and is never home, she feels like a single mum, every time she approaches Eric about job prospects etc as he is coming close to graduation, he flares up and starts an argument, they have not been intimate for a while and their relationship is fizzling she starts cutting. Cutting is an emotional release for Natalie, she sees her pain ooze out of her through her blood, she starts lying about it. She has not cut for a long time, not since Ryker went to war. Cutting was her way of coping, but she isn’t really, she is just making it worse.
She is in two minds about her relationship with Eric and wants a divorce but never actually plucks up the courage to ask, she knows that Eric would never really agree. By pure coincidence, more than 10 years later Natalie bumps into Ryker and this brings back a lot of memories. Memories of feeling loved and wanted and also a lot of pain, she is confused, now more than ever.
The back story of their relationship is told by a series of flash backs and is interspersed with the current day story so you don’t really know exactly what happens till the end. There are some fab characters in this book, her best friend is great and whilst trying to heal Natalie does some volunteer for the War Veterans home and becomes friendly with a man and his wife. They strike up a fabulous relationship and it is the wife that manages to make her see that perhaps her and Ryker were meant to be together and that 10 years ago was obviously not their time.
Natalie finally gets the ammunition and the guts to split from Eric and is still friendly with Ryker after their chance meeting..the story continues with them getting to know each other again and it is truly beautiful.
The way Ryker interacts with her kids is amazing and heart warming, something that Eric never had the time or effort to do. I love the kids names too, they are the same as my two boys, Oliver and Max. Oliver has a hearing problem and is gradually going deaf, Ryker makes the effort to learn sign language so that he can communicate with Oliver, this had me in floods of tears.
The scenes are written beautifully, as is the whole book, but the emotional pull throughout this book is like a moth to a flame, you cannot help but be pulled in. It is angsty, it is emotional, it is sad, but it also has amazing moments that just made me grin from ear to ear. You can tell how much these two love each other and you were rooting for them all the time. It is a fabulous read and one of my favourites of all time, one that I could read again and again. I highly recommend it. My only negative is that I would have liked an epilogue, just to see what happened to them down the line, I know that Natalie didn’t want any more kids but I would have liked to see if they did in the future, Ryker was so good with her kids I would have loved to seen how he would have been with one of his own..I am sure they would have stayed together, a love like they had would always have been a forever….sigh!!!! Can I cry yet…again…just remembering.....

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