Monday, April 6, 2015

Regrets Tree on Fire (The Cousin Cycle #3) by Jean Stringam

This review was written by: B
Received: GoodReads First Reads
Publication Date of Book: August 2014
Pages: 240 (paperback edition)
Stars: 3/5

But I've learned that you can get to the same right places from different directions.
               From: Regrets Tree on Fire

Please note that I received a free copy of this book through GoodReads First Reads, and I would especially like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review her book.

Bill and his father haven't been getting along lately.  In fact, they haven't for awhile.  When he was little, Bill was forced to live with his grandparents due to his mother's mental state.  As time went on, he became fairly comfortable and keen to the idea of living with his grandmother and grandfather forever.  Then his parents suddenly came back into his life, ripped him from the familiar, loving environment that he'd known for years, and was forced to live in the same house with his mother and father once again.  Since then, things have been a little rocky but not to the point where things seem hopeless.  Bill still has his two best friends Devon and Howie, after all.  Of course, these two boys have their own problems.

Howie lives with his rich parents who do nothing but ignore him.  They could care less about their son even though parents are supposed to be the ones who love their children the most.  Devon has medical parents who are trying to help him learn about life.  Devon also has an addiction that he's trying to get over.

The latest school year brings many old and new experiences to the table.  These include chess, girls, first loves, and much more!  Unfortunately, bullying also comes into the picture.  The strong and independent Howie is receiving detrimental text messages that ridicule and degrade him completely, day in and day out.  The only people who he can talk to about this are Devon and Bill, seeing as his parents wouldn't care, but what can his friends do anyway?  As the story progresses, the story elaborates on the three boys' lives and what happens when a person is subjected to bullying.  As you'll find out, bullying doesn't just affect the victims, but it also  affects those around them.

Maybe I could have done something different, changed something about myself that wold have made a difference.  But lives don't work that way, no matter how many regrets we might have.
      -Regrets Tree on Fire

My thoughts on the book:
The first thing that I want to mention about this book is that I really enjoyed how it covered a large range of different yet important topics that I feel should be included in today's YA literature.  There was death in the family, first relationships, love, religion, and (of course) bullying.

Bullying, as I have previously mentioned in some of my reviews, is an epidemic, especially among younger people.  Now, there is also Internet or cyber bullying to contend with.  In this book, though, there is a specific reason for the bullying, or, more specifically, the people behind it.  Jean Stringam came up with a brilliant and absolutely unique idea on who would possibly want to invest in bullying, and I was definitely impressed.  I also feel compelled to mention that she dealt with the subject matter extremely well.  As the reader, I vividly saw what bullying can do emotionally, socially, and physically to a person and their friends.  Bullying is no joke nor is it something to laugh about.  You can't just hope it will go away because you don't want to deal with it.  Someone has to take a stand against it and comfort the victims.  If we let bullying go, as seen in this book, terrifying consequences can ensue.

Bullying can drag a person down and pull them into a dark and seemingly hopeless place.  Howie was no exception.  Jean's writing conveyed that despairing feeling expertly.  The tone and mood of the novel when it was dealing with this issue was heavy and true in nature.  There was no sugar coating anything.  It was honest and true.

I also loved the idea of a regrets tree.  The thought of the characters writing down their regrets and seeing them go up in flames appeared to be a huge relief and outlet that was unique.  I have never heard of this and believe that this really set a great scene in the book!

There were many life experiences that occurred and were elaborated on in detail during the entirety of Regrets Tree on Fire.  The story was told in Bill's voice, and I found this to be fairly intriguing.  However, this book was rather hard for me to get into.  While I can't quite my finger on why this happened to me, I feel as though it might have been the writing style.  It took me a loooooooong time to be invested in this story, but once I put the book down for a day or two, it was once again very hard to get back into the swing of it.  I found myself reading the book in small increments during my spare time.  I also decided to read other books while reading this one because it just didn't scream at me to finish it.  However, there was a point when I couldn't help but keep turning the pages, and it was around the middle of the novel.  The only way to describe the rest of the book is to say that it almost felt like a chore having to read it.
This book just might not have been for me during the specific time that I read it.  However, I greatly urge you to give it a try if it seems interesting to you.  There were many redeeming qualities, but it just didn't do it entirely for me.  I am interested in reading more the books in the The Cousin Cycle series, though.      

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