Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
Three weeks ago I tried to run away from home. Now all I want is to go back.
When troubled Taylor Truwell is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge of an alternative to punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to hold on to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and vicious fellow patients. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends-Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn’t speak. In this striking debut, Laura Lascarso weaves together a powerful story of anger and self-destruction, hope and love.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"I’m not a person to them; I’m a problem that needs fixing. And there’s nothing wrong with me.”
For a tale of girl on self-destruct, COUNTING BACKWARDS went quickly… yet somehow also almost too neatly. It’s this last that could explain my lukewarm reception I have for it. I’d have loved it to be messier; I’d have been more than interested were Taylor less 1-2-3. She and her life certainly were all that at first, but there’s actually only one moment that had me chest-clutching because it was so painful. That when she finally imploded, she did so spectacularly… except despite that one moment that was so painful, everything else seemed to take away from what that had me feeling.
Taylor finds herself in a place where she’s to set herself to rights. But the set up felt a bit conventional with anything (anyone) a broken girl might need being there to fulfill the role. There’s a nemesis, an experienced older mentor type and yes even, a sweetheart. All of them had their roles to play, but it’s Taylor’s changing one that at first interested me but eventually lost me too.
It’s the first half of this story that’s the was the best: her not wanting to be where she was had her fighting and proving just how much she needed to be where she was. Then, it’s the second half when things are overcome, that felt a tad too neat to me, with one step leading to another, *tada* rehabilitation. Simply, I felt the strength of the book was how messy her life was, how not neat, not pretty but painful and sad and disappointing it all was all was:
“Love is not enough. Hate means even less. Anger is destruction...I feel more powerless than ever before.”
Except, all that’s overtaken by redemptive healing part which in and of itself is happy and nice, but I preferred the messy painful part of it. I believed how messy and messed up she was, she had an anger that I felt rang true.
There was a moment there (57%) that had my chest hurting from breathing in too long... except that was it all, that moment.
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