Stuck in Between by Blakely Bennett
As Jaqs' friend Lainey says in this book: "It's a tangled mess, really. And, I'm really interested to see how it all unwinds."
That line perfectly describes this book. No seriously, I liked it. Just keep reading and you'll understand.
You know how you read the excerpt and read a book, yet come away disappointed? You think, it had all of the elements but the story fell apart, didn't come together, got too over the top, and just fell flat? Well, this book is just the opposite. This is typically not my genre, because of all of the things I just mentioned above. I find that often in this genre everyone is so hung up on the sex, that seems boring and disgusting without any story or realistic characters to connect it to. Or, it's this totally abusive situation that in no way resembles consensual sex or love, but the girl is just too desperate to lose this person's abuse she's mistaking for love, or a gluten for punishment, hard to tell sometimes.
HOWEVER, that should have been what was happening here. This book had all of the elements to make it that full of meaningless sex, with no real story or depth, with wooden crazy characters that I could care less about and were so uninteresting that the sex scenes would just feel contrived and icky. But, it was just the opposite.
Ms. Blakey Bennett knows how to pen a full story with rich, developed characters. Were they over the top at times? Yes. Was it crazy? Yes. Where these characters a fairly screwed up bunch, from dysfunctional families that need to spend some time on someone's sofa in therapy? Yes. Yet, they were characters you could relate to as real. Or like that same friend that will not just let this guy go. Or, the friend who's a cheater who you know is going to get caught, but yet you can't turn your back on them when the *stuff* hits the fan because of their bad choices. I won't say more, as I don't want to add any spoilers.
But, the real emotional changes the characters went through, even the ridiculous emotional changes they went through, brought on by their own crazy decisions seemed realistic. There is a reason people watch those reality television families and marvel at how screwed up they are. They are a train wreck you can't stop watching. There really are people who wind themselves up in these crazy situations. And, of those situations described in stories, Ms. Bennett penned one that felt way more realistic then the contrived stories created around and seeming to only be half attempted to throw characters together for raunchy sex that fails to draw you in because there's no real story to tie it all together.
I found myself pulled in and totally absorbed in this disturbing story surrounding these characters. Even loved the reference to Cards Against Humanity, an outrageous game I have even played myself. Just so many realistic touches added to circumstances that could easily, and to most people, be something unrealistic and ridiculous. That speaks to this authors serious talent to spin a solid, good, realistic, and creative story. I am so glad I gave it a chance. I made the mistake of starting it at night and forced myself to put it down when I was sucked in so quickly. I picked it back up in the morning and listened to the end, getting nothing else done all day.
The narrator, Lily Horne, did an amazing job bringing these characters to life. She seemed to capture the personality of each character. Her portrayal of each character had me seeing in my mind as if I were either a spectator in the room as they went through all of their various and individual insanities. This was a perfect blend of a good writer being paired with a great narrator who can bring those characters to life in audio.
Reviewed by Marla Josephs
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