Ashley Hayes is a firefighter who is forced to see a therapist before returning back to work after a significant fire claimed the life of her best friend, Derek. This tells the story of Ash’s terrible childhood through memories brought to the surface by some post traumatic stress.
Well written, the book highlights all of the relationships in Ash’s life that contribute to helping her heal. We see progressive improvement in her well being as a result of every interaction she has. There is a lot of trauma to face and we are taken on her journey of repair.
At times, this was difficult to read as we are taken back to the time when her mother didn’t care about her and the threat of sexual harassment and rape from the mother’s steady flow of boyfriends. It is very sad when the only thing between you and a predator is a butter knife.
It also deals with addiction. Ash continues to fall back on burning things to cope with her past or even current difficult situations.
Thankfully she meets the wonderful, Mia, who moves in next door. She is a saint because she looks beyond Ash’s brash behavior toward her in the beginning. She is a better person than me, because I would have stayed on my side of the property line. But Mia does admit being attracted to broken people.
There are no sex scenes in this. It hints that it is coming and then confirms when it has happened. I love it when authors do not include explicit scenes. I do have to say that I wish there was a little bit more action leading up to the off-page sex.
I really liked the woman who took Ash in as a teenager. Mary is a feisty old lady full of love and sage advice. For example:
“…guilt is an anchor. While it may be tolerable in calm water, it will drown us when the water gets rough.”
“It does’t matter where you start in life, it’s where you end up that counts.”
“The first thing you need to learn is that sometimes what’s right outweighs what’s requested.”
Needless to say, I really enjoyed Mary and her wisdom.
This is a tough one to recommend, though. It is not really a happy story. Readers may like this if they can relate to this type of childhood and find some kind of solace by Ash overcoming everything. The relationships that Ash experiences are the highlights of this story.