Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Saving Toby - Suzanne McKenna Link

I 100% believe in book hangovers, the kind of books that keep you from reaching for another right away, the kind where the characters have become real to you, the kind that makes it hard to differentiate between real-life emotions and book emotions. Saving Toby was one of those books for me, I sort of want to go back and read the last several chapters again. I didn't expect myself to fall in love with the characters and I definitely wasn't sure what I was getting into when I started, but I found myself falling in love with everything in this book. I don't know if words can do it justice, though I will try in this review. It will leave you gasping and at times laughing, but mostly it will make you feel. If you're looking for a new book or a new author to follow, Suzanne McKenna Link's debut novel, Saving Toby, is a great place to start.

Rating: 4 stars
Published: January 2014
Many thanks to Suzanne McKenna Link for providing a ebook in exchange for my honest review. 

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Toby has had a crush on Claudia since he could remember, but seeing her again, in his house, taking care of his mom, brings all those feelings back to life. After moving away to get away from his family and his past, Toby is back when his mom's cancer returns again. It's all temporary though, he'll be leaving again as soon as he can. He doesn't want to remember his dad, see his brother in prison, and certainly not get stuck in this town he wants nothing to do with. Claudia is ready to try to be on her own, even if it means going behind her sheriff father's back. She's applied to USC, working her first paying job, and somewhere along the away found herself liking Toby Faye, the son of her client. They aren't from the same world however and when bad things seem to be happening no matter where he goes, their short lived relationship doesn't stand a chance. Toby doesn't know how to love and Claudia doesn't know how to keep loving someone who doesn't want to try.

It is hard to believe this book is Suzanne McKenna Link's debut novel; it is incredibly well written and a real page-turner. Main characters, Toby and Claudia, come to life on the pages and their mannerisms are very realistic. Claudia was exactly who I was in school; good, driven, determined to succeed, but curious. I really enjoyed her as a character, especially when she did things outside of her norm. It's easy as a reader to say her mannerism don't make sense, but when I think back to being 18-21, the strange self preservation methods are totally true. I love how she wanted so much for Toby, yet knew her own self worth as well. I understood where she came from when she both wanted to be in Toby's life, but couldn't. She was a perfectly written character, in my opinion. Toby, on the other hand, is, well, stressful. He's the kid who you tell no who does it any way, the one who jumps off a rock into the water without knowing how deep it is. His emotions are all over the place and as a reader you're left wanting to throw a stop sign in front of him, to make him slow down and think. I could easily picture him in my mind and felt all the emotions as he went through his life. It was so hard to read about his feelings, but know he physically had no clue how to express them. Both characters, as well as the minor characters of friends and family, are very well described. The physical traits, from color of skin and eyes, clothing type, and even odd little facial expressions were so well detailed. It was easy to picture the characters and the scene as the pages turned.

The relationship between Claudia and Toby, while tumultuous, is beautiful. I liked their approach of the unknown, I liked that it wasn't perfect, and I really liked how it was so very realistic. The novel takes place over a long period of time, three years to be exact. While it felt like a very long read at times, it really isn't, it's just filled with the kind of relationship that's consuming. There's also some very heavy subjects dealt with through out the book, from family members in prison, overbearing parents, sexual relationships, cancer, and criminal activity. It seems like a lot, but it's handled very well and written into the book over a length of time. I have to commend Link for not smoothing out the hard to handle situations, I get so tired of YA/NA books that have something happen that is okay in just a page or two, I like the depth and to feel the heartache with the characters.

Every moment I read this book, I ignored something in my own life. I was completely immersed and when I finished the last page I had this feeling in my stomach that something was missing. Saving Toby is a complex novel, not one you can just pick up and read on any old day, but one that will take over your life from the moment you start the first page. The character development, descriptive writing, and amazing plot line are just a few parts of this book that I could go on and on about. Suzanne McKenna Link has given a gift to readers in this New Adult Contemporary Romance and if I could have the second book in my hands right now, I absolutely would.

1 comment

  1. Thank you for the kind words Carlene! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. The sequel is close to being finished... I'll keep in touch!


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