Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.
Ellie McCallum was a bully. No connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.
Particularly Freaky Flynn.
Flynn Hendrick lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger’s. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.
But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.
And moved on.
Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.
When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.
And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.
But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the further you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.
Heart-breaking, excruciating, inspiring, beautiful and unforgettable!
5 STARS FOR ELLIE & FLYNN!
Oh goodness, this book was tough. Like, really tough. I really, really struggled to read some of the scenes and I know some of you are going to totally balk at this. There are some real extreme bullying scenes in this book and to be honest, sometimes I just wanted to shut my Kindle off and walk away. I just couldn’t deal with it.
I hate being alone. I want people to talk to me. I want them to like me. It makes me angry when I try to say something and people ignore me. Or worse they laugh.
They call me names. Lots of names. Mean names.
But although this book totally broke my heart, it was worth every bit of pain! I absolutely loved it.
Freaky Flynn Hendrick has Asperger’s. I’ll explain a little more about that in a second. He is noticeably different to all of the other kids at school.
Ellie McCallum has had it tough. She’s grown up in foster care, been abused, abandoned and locked up and she’s hardened, cold and cruel. Nobody messes with Ellie and her friends. And if they do, they can expect a face full of fist.
Flynn is an easy target. Ellie and her friends make his life a living hell. They tease him, they push him around, they call him names and they bully him in every way imaginable. And then Ellie finds herself falling into a very unlikely friendship with the local oddball and a battle with her conscience and her long-standing hardass ways begins.
Flynn is one of the most vulnerable, loveable, heart-melting book characters I haveever read. I just wanted to scoop him up and protect him from everything life might ever throw at him. He suffers with Asperger syndrome.
Asperger’s, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
Flynn is socially awkward, he has absolutely no filter between his brain and his mouth. If Flynn thinks someone, he’ll let you know. Now, I know this can make him seem totally rude at times, but I found this totally endearing and very comical at times! I just adored Flynn. There aren’t enough words to explain how much he warmed my heart.
And then there is Ellie. Ellie’s character is a tricky one. I absolutely hated some of the things she not only stood by and watched her friends do to Flynn, but even actually joined in with. That is what I found so hard to read and I know that some of you just won’t be able to tolerate the level of bullying in this book. It hurt. Like, physically hurt my chest, to read some of it.
You will hate me.
You will detest the choices that I have made.
You won’t understand me at all.
However, there were times when I really liked Ellie, and really felt for her, too. Ellie has had a terrible up-bringing. She’s had no real guidance, no role model, nobody teaching her right from wrong, and she’s developed a defensive, aggressive persona to survive. She’s not just in with the wrong crowd, Ellie McCallum is the wrong crowd. But after a stint in juvie, and as she begins to recognise what’s really important in life, she makes an effort to change her ways and her future. I enjoyed watching this change in her. And I loved how she felt for Flynn.
I loved him. I did.
I had never loved anyone before but now I loved with my whole being.
It split me open.
My guts spilled out on the floor at Flynn’s feet.
He owned me. Completely.
There was no coming back from this.
Flynn had reclaimed me.
The reason I think Ellie is tolerable, despite her actions, is because she is so real. Y’know, she is a total bitch, but A. Meredith Walters explains her character so well that you kind of can’t help but feel a bit sorry for her. I mean, there is no excuse for bullying, but she’s got this real ‘attack to defend’ mentality, this in-built survival instinct that she has developed over so many years of hardship. And underneath it all is a good person. And the truth is that there are so many young people out there like that. People that just don’t know how to deal with real life and the tragedy that is their existence, so they lash out and they create this hateful, hard, ruthless persona to hide their sadness and their short-comings. That’s how I felt Ellie was. She couldn’t really deal with life, so instead she made other people feel small to fit in with the only friends she has and to make herself feel bigger. She uses drugs and alcohol to numb her mind from her pathetic, repetitive existence. And she rebels against any kind of authority or rule implementation. But she knows no different. And once she starts to mature and realises that she does have other options, she begins to change.
Had I mentioned I wasn’t a people person with some major anger issues?
And also, I think part of what makes this book so emotional is that no, you can’t really forgive Ellie for everything she did. But life moves on, people change and, though we can’t change the things we’ve done in the past, all we can do is try and change the direction of our future and try to make good choices from here on in. And another thing I took from this book was that it takes a certain strength and pure, unbridled goodness in a person to be able to forgive and love, regardless.
“I’m upset, Ellie! Because you won’t talk to me! Because you always hurt me! You make it so hard to love you!”
A. Meredith Walters has had first hand experience, working with troubled teens with mental health problems and troubled lives, so you can rest assured that you will always get an accurate account of the obstacles and issues that these young people face, with her books. Her books are raw and emotive. They pull you in and consume you. They always draw out such intense emotions from me and I feel like I could very possibly be reading a story based on somebodies real life experiences.
The book flips between Ellie and Flynn’s POVs. Flynn tells us the story of the past, from his perspective, when they were teenagers in high school. And Ellie narrates the here and now. I loved the chapters from Flynn’s POV. His narrative is so simplistic, so black and white. He thinks in basic, obvious sentences. There is no mind games or beating around the bush, with Flynn. He doesn’t know how to lie and he totally doesn’t get sarcasm or figures of speech. He takes everything literally and at face value, and it’s utterly adorable.
He didn’t hold the door open, instead letting it fly back and knock me in the face.
“Thanks,” I muttered, rubbing my nose.
“You’re welcome,” he said, my sarcasm lost on him as always.
The romance between Ellie and Flynn will melt you from the inside out. It’s slow building and so pure. As we know, Flynn says how he feels, so we always know exactly what he is thinking. And this includes his thoughts on Ellie’s appearance, on what makes him happy, what makes him mad, on kissing, on touching Ellie’s boobs! It really made me giggle and just added to Flynn’s appeal. Honestly ladies, forget being dominated by all of our sexy, controlling Alphas; you will all just want to spend the rest of your lives loving Flynn Hendrick, protecting him and teaching him the ways of the world.
“I want you to only do this with me. Okay?”
“You don’t want me with anyone else?”
“No! People that love each other don’t do that with anyone else.”
This book breaks all of the romance novel stereotypes. It throws the rule book away and writes one all of it’s own. We have a defenceless, victimised hero and a cruel, bad-ass, hardened heroine. And at no point do their roles reverse. Flynn’s disability means that he is and always will be the vulnerable one, the one that needs help, that has trouble with every day life and Ellie will always be the decision maker, the protector and the stronger, more capable partner.
We’ve already witnessed A. Meredith Walter’s talent for engaging a reader with her seamless writing, with the very popular Find You in the Dark series. And she absolutely achieves the same effect with Reclaiming the Sand. I love the way she writes, the way she brings the characters to life and the way you can visualise every location and every scene. Again, I’d have loved to see more of this in terms of how this would affect them as a couple, moving forward with their life.
There were never two people more ill suited for a relationship than us. We were all wrong. We didn’t stand a chance.
And that made me want to fight for it even harder.
This book has a beautiful happy ending. I was a bit nervous, as I neared the end of the book, that we weren’t going to get there. But we did, and it was just gorgeous. If there’s anything I’d have changed, it would have been to have a little more insight into the hurdles Flynn and Ellie would face as a couple when building their future. But that really is my only complaint. Everything else was flawless.
If you are prepared to wade through the darkness and the pain, I highly recommend this book. You will be rewarded with a story that makes you feel from the very depths of your heart and characters that will climb right into your soul!
Have you read it? Tell us what you thought?
‘Reclaiming the Sand’ Statistics
• Steam Rating (out of 5): ♥♥
• Ending: Happy ending
• POV: Alternates between Ellie & Flynn.
• Narrative: First person. Past tense.
• Series: ✗
• Can this be read as a standalone? Yes
• Writing: Fantastic
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