Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.
For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.
Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved.
“… the thing I regret – will always regret – is going into my room on my twelfth birthday.”
Nothing will prepare you for what this book is about or the authenticity with which it tackles some very important but grim life issues. This is a book about second chances at what life should have been in the first place, about the freeing power of the human connection, and about love between wounded souls.
Callie and Kayden lived in the same small town all their lives, went to the same school, knew the same people, but they have never really known each other. Their paths rarely crossed, their lives rarely intersected, but they knew of each other. One tragic encounter between them just before moving out of home and going to college connects their lives irrevocably, planting the seed for everything that happens between them afterwards.
Callie and Kayden’s lives have been everything but ordinary. Each one of them carries the burden of their own secrets, recognising in each other the sadness that comes from carrying such burden from a young age. They’ve both felt so much ugliness and endured such emotional pain in their young lives that they’ve become afraid of feeling intense emotions again. They choose numbness and avoidance over confronting the source of their pain. They swipe it all under the rug and face life fiercely guarding their internal turmoil. Their shame over what happened to them further taints their happiness, always making them feel incomplete and ruined.
Kayden is a product of constant and systematic physical abuse by the hand of a man who should have been his protector, not his worst nightmare. Abuse and fear were the only language spoken in his home while growing up, but while his brothers eventually either retaliated or left without ever looking back, Kayden endured his sentence alone, never reacting, pain becoming a source of emotional escape rather than a reason to run. It became his dirty little secret, a coping mechanism for whenever he could not deal with too many emotions together.
“As his fist hammers against my face, warm blood pours along my skin and splatters against his shirt. I know this time he’s probably going to kill me and I should finally fight back, but I was taught to die on the inside. Plus I just don’t seem to care anymore.”
Callie’s abuse, on the other hand, might have been a one-off occurrence in her life, but its effects on her wounded mind have followed her ever since, shaping her interaction with others, her appearance, self-esteem, but most of all, her trust in people, including those closest to her. No one had saved her during that horrific act when her innocence was stolen from her and she has never trusted another person since. She spent the remainder of her forming years hiding from the world, attempting to disappear and blend into the shadows. Callie has her own ways of dealing with her pain, just as desperate and just as self-destructive as Kayden’s. They have so much in common without even realising it.
“Everyone was watching me, like they could see that I wasn’t whole anymore.”
When they meet again in college, they are both terrified of the pull between them. By spending time together, Callie soon realizes that Kayden makes her feel safe, protected. Their growing intimacy slowly purges her mind from her bad memories, replacing them with new, happy ones. Kayden, however, fights his attraction to her, recognizing the way she makes him feel as something that could potentially shake his careless façade.
“… from the few moments I’ve spent with her, I’ve felt everything too much… she makes me feel things I’m not used to; the dirty dreams, the protectiveness, the way my stupid heart starts to beat like it’s finally alive.”
Two broken hearts start to heal by simply caring for each other and acknowledging each other’s demons. Their connection is primal, irreversible, addictive. They offer each other a way out of the darkness they’ve been living in, fiercely protecting one another from further abuse and soothing existing wounds with compassion and kindness. But life can be excessively cruel to the ones that deserve it the least and soon Kayden and Callie are again battling old fiends.
A compelling and superbly written story that will keep you captivated and consumed by truly loveable characters and a storyline that will undoubtedly leave its mark on your heart. The sequel, The Redemption of Callie and Kayden, will be released on 28 February 2013.