Author: Kate Avelynn
Published: Jan 2013, Entangled
Format: Library Loan
Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago — James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely.
Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.
Sam Donavon has been James’ best friend — and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on — for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realizes James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact . . .
Flawed. OMG. So where do I start? This book is crazy good, and you'd be a fool to not pick it up. A bit taboo, a bit romance, a bit dark... there's a lot in these pages, and I loved it.
Sarah and James. Brother and sister. Survivors of familial abuse. They've suffered at their father's destructive and violent hand their entire lives, and they live for each other while their mother rots away in a back bedroom, a victim of abuse and addiction herself. The catch is that Sarah is not old enough to move out, and James stays on to protect her. Terrific brother, right? Right.
Early on in this book you can tell that James is not on the same page as Sarah. While he has her eternal gratitude, and she feels she owes him her life, his expectations have managed to creep their way into dangerous territory. But Sarah is growing up, and she is starting to see abusive patterns in her brother, her protector. And his love for her might not be all that healthy.
These characters... they are so vivid. You can feel the pain oozing out of them, and when they get their small tastes of freedom here and there, you live vicariously through their smiles and laughter. But underneath their long sleeves and full length pants in the middle of hot weather lurks more bruises and scars than any one person should ever have to bear. This book is told through Sarah's point of view, and she definitely paints a picture of hope at times, despair at other times, and just plain ol' confusion. James is isolating her. He doesn't want her to have friends or go out, or get a job. He doesn't want her to date. He doesn't want Sarah to do anything that could eventually give her freedom that leads her away from him. I felt myself yearning for freedom to live right along with her.
Flawed definitely has some very dark moments. Frankly, much of the book is very dark. There are so many types of abuse happening, it's hard to handle at times. I kept finding myself crossing my fingers and holding out hope for Sarah. I mean, she's just a young girl, and some of the things she goes through are just plain evil. But a lot of hope comes in the form of Sam, James' best friend - and the boy that she has loved for years. He opens her eyes that there is more out there than just the protective arms of her brother.
Turns out there is some reciprocation there in the love department. The big question through the book was "What will James do?" Well, pile that on top of a million other questions, actually. In the end, it felt like the book ended the way it had to - even though it kills me to say so. I had to sit on this book for a bit before I could write the review up. I had to decide if I was happy with it's arc. Was I? No, not entirely. But what happened is what needed to happen, and I think Sarah is definitely a character that will sit with me for a long time.
To those of you who might pick this up that have violence and abuse in your past, be careful. There are plenty of things that could be triggers. But the story is beautiful in it's own way. Not all beauty is sunshine and roses. A lot of times it's Flawed.