Brilliant! My New Favorite Book!!!
By Degrees has just won the top spot for my favorite Elle Casey book and probably favorite all time book. Full Measure is nearly right alongside it but this book just hit me in a way I really wasn't expecting. On paper I wasn't sure about this one. I mean I knew I'd probably enjoy it and there would be characters that I loved because her character development and dialogue are always top notch but wow I was so not ready for how unique and special this story was going to be. I started reading this book at night and ended up staying up until very late the next morning and had to get up early but instead of being tired I woke up looking forward to my day and reading some more before breakfast. During the day I picked up my Kindle every spare chance I got. When I wasn't reading I was thinking of the characters and what was going to happen so I went from nerve wracked during the periods I just couldn't read to nerve wracked once again when I was reading (but this time in a totally good way).
WARNING: May be some slight spoilers below. Nothing specific but I hate ruining anything for anyone so you have been warned!!!
Except for being a rock star, rich and famous I could very much relate to Tarin and his lifestyle of self destruction. I've personally been through and have known a lot of people who have been through similar situations and just like Tarin they were all good people deep down underneath all of the pain and suffering but drug abuse/any kind of self abuse can be a viscous cycle, a complete circle of self loathing, guilt and numbness. You hate yourself for doing these things yet can't seem to stop, you do more drugs or drink more to numb the pain and your own guilt which just causes more pain, guilt and anguish and until you finally step out of that evil circle and that's only if you're one of the rare lucky ones and if not then it just keeps going around and around in a downward spiral. So I pretty much knew where Tarin was coming from the whole time, that didn't stop me from disliking his actions at times but it's very hard for me to judge others knowing I've been down that same road and much like Tarin I had someone help me out through thick and thin, in my case a relative but in Tarin's case it was Scarlett who I absolutely loved.
Scarlett is such a strong woman and I know some may mistake her pain in the end for weakness but it was anything but. Because of events in her past she never fully dealt with she was still in pain and vulnerable. Being strong doesn't mean you're a robot. It takes a very strong person to ask for and to get help. It takes a strong man or woman to be able to cry in front of their partner and to let them to help them through their pain. Scarlet threw everything into her work. Instead of working on herself she set out to save others and while it was good short term it really isn't that healthy in the long run especially for any kind of relationship and meeting Tarin brought back so much of her past along with her vulnerability and pain. It's a wonder she wasn't even more of a mess to tell the truth. So yeah I can very much relate to where she and Tarin were both coming from and it felt real. Honesty is important to me in any book. Some books I read there are certain events just don't feel honest or real, like people are trying too hard to give that happily ever after. Don't get me wrong, I love a happy ending but sometimes real life isn't always a bed of roses. There's almost always pain or other issues mixed in with the wonder and love and I felt Mrs. Casey did an excellent job of not only showing that but staying real to her story and characters.
The ending completely caught me off guard and I loved the story even more for it. I thought the story was heading in one direction and once again Mrs. Casey does a U-Turn on me and then blindsides me with something I never even saw coming and I loved every second of it. I am very much into drama at least in fiction, not so much in real life and I absolutely love stories of redemption: that light at the end of a dark tunnel. I really want to say more so bad but don't want to give the story away for anyone so I'm just going to end by saying that I applaud the author for creating a story that was refreshing and unique and for tackling the subject matter that she did while keeping it so very honest. I would not have been in the least bit surprised if this was a true story (it's not but it wouldn't have surprised me if it was - I think this one would make a great movie). As fantastical as some books can be, life is always even more fantastical and I've known many people who have been through very similar situations although none of them famous. This is one I'll be rereading many times in the future. They say sometimes life imitates art but I think By Degrees very much imitates or mirrors life and I enjoyed every second of looking into that mirror even when I had to look at the shadows because in the end the light overcame the darkness.