Title: Who We Were
Author: Melissa Collins
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: October 26th 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 221 pages
Reviewed by: Kristin F.
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Who We Were…
Two awkward teenagers – the loner and the nerd, trying to find our place in the world. Paired in wood shop, we knew nothing of each other, except that we wanted to know everything. Then one life altering moment changed it all and we were left with shattered dreams and broken hearts.
Who We Are…
Two grown men – braver and smarter than we used to be, trying to heal the damage from that irrevocable moment. Even though the past was behind us, dead and buried long ago, we found it impossible to move on without ripping open the scars of our deep wounds.
With twelve years of unanswered questions fueling our desperate need for the truth, we must figure out if who we were will destroy who we are.
Warning – book contains bullying and physical and mental abuse, which might be a trigger for some.
I’m going to be upfront and admit, I completely bounced off this story. I don’t know if I was expecting something different based off the blurb, or if I misread, but this wasn’t for me.
The book is split fairly equally into two parts. Part One: the High School years. Ryan is struggling with his feelings towards his only friend Quinn, he’s in an abusive relationship with his twin brother Patrick, and his parents have made it clear his presence is merely tolerated. Ryan is angry, frustrated and wants out from under his Father’s roof and away from Patrick. Graduation is mere weeks away when everything comes to a brutal head and Ryan runs away.
Part Two is twelve years later. Ryan is now a successful contractor in upstate Maine. He’s is attempting to make amends with his parents and he’s still harboring a grudge against his brother. Ryan has reluctantly agreed to return home for Patrick’s marriage to Quinn’s sister. Ryan knows Quinn will be there, which dredges up a whole slew of suppressed feelings. Quinn demands one week to prove to Ryan that he still cares and they are meant to be together.
I didn’t expect Part One to take up nearly half the book. Again, being honest, I’m not a fan of young adult (YA) and part one was definitely YA. The reader witnesses Ryan being bullied by Patrick, he’s emotionally abused by his Father who’s insisting that Ryan will go to the same college as Patrick because he will get a multiple kid discount and Patrick has a scholarship amongst other things. His mother is turning a blind eye to both types of abuse. Ryan is isolated and angry. Ryan runs away. I could emphasize with this Ryan.
I really struggled with Part Two and any empathy I had for Ryan went away. I found him to be an utter asshole. I didn’t understand why he went to Patrick’s wedding when he had nothing but contempt for Patrick. He lashed out at Quinn, who was only guilty of caring and loving Ryan. And then, as an adult, Ryan kept running away. Oh for fudges’ sake.
Then there was The Big Secret Ryan was harboring, convinced if Quinn knew Quinn would hate him (though why Quinn still harbored a torch for Ryan 12 years after Ryan left him cold, I don’t know). When the Big Reveal finally happened…it was utterly anti-climactic. I was left feeling underwhelmed and a bit irritated.
The writing is more than competent, the plot is structured, and the story line moves smartly along. The author builds the characters and loads them up with emotion. Ultimately, it just wasn’t my kind of story. If you like young adult, coming of age, hurt/comfort type stories, this might be for you.