Review: 738 Days by Stacey Kade

Warning: The novel contains explicit scenes that may not be suitable for younger readers.

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Paperback, 432 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Forge Books
Source: Publisher

Look, I usually don’t read the so-called ‘new adult’ novels simply because I feel like they add sex to the young adult narrative and pretend it makes the books somehow edgier when in actually, all it does is make them more titillating. Still, I confess readily that my biases are a result of an extremely small selection of books I have had the misfortune of reading and when Ksenia from Tor sent me this review copy, I was intrigued despite myself.

Here’s the synopsis:

At fifteen, Amanda Grace was abducted on her way home from school. 738 days later, she escaped. Her 20/20 interview is what everyone remembers—Amanda describing the room where she was kept, the torn poster of TV heartthrob Chase Henry on the wall. It reminded her of home and gave her the strength to keep fighting.

Now, years later, Amanda is struggling to live normally. Her friends have gone on to college, while she battles PTSD. She’s not getting any better, and she fears that if something doesn’t change soon she never will.

Six years ago, Chase Henry defied astronomical odds, won a coveted role on a new TV show, and was elevated to super-stardom. With it, came drugs, alcohol, arrests, and crazy spending sprees. Now he’s sober and a Hollywood pariah, washed up at twenty-four.

To revamp his image, Chase’s publicist comes up with a plan: surprise Amanda Grace with the chance to meet her hero, followed by a visit to the set of Chase’s new movie. The meeting is a disaster, but out of mutual desperation, Amanda and Chase strike a deal. What starts as a simple arrangement, though, rapidly becomes more complicated when they realize they need each other in more ways than one. But when the past resurfaces in a new threat, will they stand together or fall apart?

Right? Okay. Yes, I know, I don’t like mushy romance and I don’t. The thing is, this book isn’t about mushy romance. I wanted to see how Kade treated the extremely sensitive theme of Amanda Grace’s past traumas and you know what? She does a good job. At least in my opinion.

In the beginning when readers first meet Amanda Grace, she’s sitting on the floor of her cupboard because the outside world scares her so much. She freely admits to herself that she is a mess and she doesn’t know how to cope, how to continue living her life as though the events that shaped her didn’t take place. It also doesn’t help that her family, well meaning though they may be, are in a way contributing to her inability to deal.

When Chase Henry’s publicist makes that incredibly misinformed and unwise decision to spring him on Amanda Grace at the mart where she works, he triggers her and she has a breakdown right in front of the reporters and customers gathered to witness Amanda Grace meeting Chase Henry for the first time outside of her imagination. Amanda Grace flees and forces Chase Henry to examine his motivations, his goals, heck, even his life. To say he feels lower than roadkill would be true. Because while Chase has messed up, he is cognizant of his flaws and that always is 50% on the road to becoming a decent human being.

Still, Amanda Grace makes a decision and she acts on that decision when she accompanies Chase to his movie set, knowing that she is going to be used for publicity but okay with it because she is so tired of living in constant fear. What follows is an extremely eventful period of time with a lot of romance, a lot of growing, and a lot of living. The novel occurs within a few days and okay, usually I would be extremely skeptical that people could fall in forever love in that short a period but Kade doesn’t try to force a forever love on her readers. She merely tells a story about how two people, broken in different but important ways, find a connection that brings them closer to healing.

I liked how proactive Amanda Grace is about her sexual life. She refuses to let the horrific memories of being raped and abused shape her experiences of the future. She tells Chase this and he agrees to let the physical side of their relationship be on her terms because she is the most damaged and only she can decide what she is and isn’t ready for. These stories are important and not only for women who have been through the terrible ordeal Amanda Grace went through. Amanda Grace specifically takes control of her life in small ways whether it is by deciding to be with Chase or deciding to move away from the suffocating protection her parents seem determined to provide or even if it is by confronting things and people that scare her silly.

No one who hasn’t been through what she did can empathize fully and the novel does not ask us to. 738 Days does try to show how one person copes and how other people become her allies in expected and unexpected ways.

And okay, there is some cheese. But sometimes you just have to enjoy the cheese. I enjoyed this book and chances are, you will too. Give it a chance.

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