by Ashley Sanders
Copyright © October 2011
$25.04 Hardcover 200 pages
$2.99 Kindle 334KB
Amidst the darkness of turmoil, there is hope.
Blake Solomon had never before heard such heart-wrenching stories until now. Jason gang member, Rebecca a child prostitute, Matthew an African refugee, and Felicity a reckless rich kid, make up the newest group at Blake's Anchor Beach Rehabilitation Clinic.
Each have seen more than their share of tragedy and have reached a point of desperation where all hope seems lost. Leaving behind worlds tainted with drugs and alcohol, violence and abuse, self-harm, and street life is easier said than done. Unexpectedly, these four young lives collide in extraordinary circumstances as they attempt to salvage any glimmer of strength and self-belief they have left.
Blake's battle to save all four from paths of certain self-destruction is the toughest he's ever faced. Is a quick-fix all he has to offer before feeding them back to the lions? Or will he keep his promise to help them face their demons?
Somewhere during the tumultuous years we call being a teenager, I read a book called Voices that impacted me strongly at the time and stuck with me for many years. The concept of the book was the background and letters of teens who committed suicide, and was based on non-fiction cases. Each time I connected with the kid in the current "story" and each time my mind cried out for them to choose life -- things would get better. When I ran across Ashley Sanders' Facing Demons the write up reminded me of the book which had made such a huge impression on me. So I read the preview and decided to give it a try.
I was not disappointed.
Sanders has penned a powerful story weaving five troubled lives together in a beautiful setting. Blake Solomon rescues four teens from the hospital, transports them to his rehabilitation center, and helps them learn to take control of their own destiny and break their patterns from the past. And you may note that I mentioned five troubled lives, and not four. Blake has some troubles which are revealed through the course of the story as well, which help give him a realness he would not otherwise have had.
Each of the kids in the story come to life on the page, and you will feel like you could meet them somewhere in your own home town. Yet, each of them has a reason to want to die, as well as a reason to live -- though they may not know it. While each of their stories has some similarities, they are unique to the character and the voices are well-developed. My only complaint, which probably comes from being a writer myself and therefore used to subjecting my own work to extreme critical analysis, is that despite the use of first person present tense (or in the case of Blake third person present tense), I felt distanced from the characters -- like they were at arms length. I wanted to feel their pain, yet felt told about it instead. I am not a huge fan of present tense narrative, but the purpose behind it is to bring the reader into the mind of the character, reducing any distance. Toward the end of the book, the distance diminished, which made me wish the intimacy would have been there from the start.
However, despite my pickiness, Facing Demons is a worthwhile read, and one that teens will definitely connect to. The issues that the teens face have an incredible ring of truth about them. And in delving into Sanders' background, I discovered that he works as a paramedic, so has seen this sort of thing first hand. What a wonderful way to take personal experience and convert it to an amazingly insightful tale. Facing Demons is about some of the poor choices we can make with our lives, or dealing with the circumstances dealt to us from the deck of life. It has a tremendous message of hope and will have you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails with its exciting conclusion. A definite "must read" for troubled teens, but good for all teens and those of us who still remember the emotional upheaval of those times.
Bravo, Mr. Sanders
What's even better is that Sanders is currently working on the prequel stories of Jason, Rebecca, Matthew, and Felicity, and I for one can't wait for them to be out.