Title: Believing Rory
Author: S.C. Wynne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Will Rory bring them together or stand between them?
Eighteen-year-old Lane Graham has always relied on his braver, more confident buddy, Rory. But Rory’s sudden suicide blindsides Lane and sends him into an emotional tailspin. How’s he supposed to start college in a few months feeling this damaged?
Baron MacDonald knew Rory from playing League of Legends together. He was always intrigued by Lane’s online presence, and Rory had promised to set them up. Now that Rory’s gone, Baron has to approach Lane on his own.
On the surface, Baron and Lane couldn’t seem more different. Baron is confident and serious, and Lane is guarded and uncertain. But it’s the pain beneath the flesh that binds these two souls together like barbed wire and cement.
***Trigger Warnings: Suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, mention of past sexual abuse.***
I had a hard time collecting my thoughts about this one, mainly because there were things I absolutely loved about the story, and things that left me very unimpressed. I have enjoyed books by this author before and if I had to rate the book solely on the very first part where Lane’s emotions after Rory’s passing are in the forefront, I would give the book a solid 5-star rating. Alas, the mess that followed would drop my rating to 1-1.5 stars. So, 3 stars is a good compromise.
This book deals with suicide in a very real, intense way. As the blurb says, Lane was devastated after his best friend’s suicide. So, of course, there’s a lot of page time devoted to Lane reflecting on his time with Rory and the pain of not realising how desperate Rory must have felt to end his life. But it does not end there. Suicide, in this story, is not just addressed as a horrible, hurtful thing that happened to someone else. Lane did not get affected by suicide by proxy. He was suicidal himself in the past. Baron, Rory’s online friend who met Lane at Rory’s funeral, was also suicidal.
Suicidality is very much a living, breathing thing in this story and completely in your face.
To Baron and Lane, continuing to live is an everyday struggle and a conscious choice that has to be made almost daily. It’s here in the present. This is even more highlighted with the very blunt and to the point way of thinking that we’re subjected to in Lane’s head. I was very impressed by his internal monologue. Yes, he sounded depressed and hopeless but his awkward, almost antisocial personality came through 100%.
The writing created a very heavy, depressing atmosphere that really put me down and I struggled to keep reading because of how intense and heart-breaking some of the scenes were.
But then the story lost focus entirely. Lane and Baron developed a relationship and the book was all about the drama. I can’t say I’ve missed reading about teenage angst. And I’m not referring to their respective personal issues. I’m talking about petty jealousy, drunken fights, breaking up, making up, miscommunication, and the cherry on the pie: how dare you go to college on the other side of the country? Don’t you love meeeeeeeeee?
This wasn’t a quote from the book but that’s the gist of what their fights were about. And there went a huge part of the book, describing a disastrous meeting of the parents, more petty fights, some sex scenes, and too much stuff that could have been edited out.
Some of Baron’s issues became the forefront again, towards the end, like something forgotten, a loose end that needed to be tied. The godforsaken separation for college ensued and a good 10+% was just Lane in college. Lane with his roommate getting to know each other. Lane at a karaoke. I wanted to yell “This isn’t supposed to be what the story is about! Why I am reading pages and pages of this?”
The HFN was predictable. My disappointment mainly stems from the fact that the book dealt with serious issues that got lost in the haze of teenage antics. And yes, real life is messy, it’s not outlined and planned beforehand so everything can happen at the right pace and at the right time. Life throws you curve balls and you just deal. What happened here was that a bunch of fantastic, brilliant ideas got by the wayside because the book couldn’t decide what it was going to be when it grew up. And that’s a damn shame.
Heed the warnings and read with caution. Like I said, there were parts I found absolutely stunning and parts where the characters sounded and acted like 12 year olds. This book can be heart-breakingly beautiful and entirely annoying in equal measure. But for the really good parts in the beginning, this is a story that deserves to be read.