DISCLAIMER: Though this is a YA novel, it still contains violence, language, and other situations some may not be comfortable with.
Lean on Me by Candy CrumWhen sixteen year old Briana Grace discovers that she's pregnant after only having sex one time with her emotionally and physically abusive boyfriend, Mike Rhodes, her life begins to twist and turn upside down. She discovers who truly loves her and who she can really trust.
Her boyfriend turns on her and nearly kills her when she won't agree to an abortion. Bri has to fight for her life and that of her little girl. She struggles to learn how to turn her life around and rise above all the bad after the world turns against her when more and more people learn of her pregnancy.
No matter what, there's one friend that she can count on through thick and thin. He has been her best friend since childhood and they've never seen anything more from their friendship... Until now. She must learn to trust her heart again so she can see the bright future with the one who’s been there all along.
Bri's story is a combination of many stories that we have heard before, including all of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Girl gets pregnant by an abusive boyfriend. No one believes her about what happened. Parents disown her when they find out. Amazing male best friend takes care of her. Girl is determined to do whatever it takes to protect herself and her unborn child and hides lots of truths to make that happen. I felt like all aspects were amplified. Those who were going to be mean were just downright nasty. Those who wanted to help were bubbly and/or went above and beyond the call of duty. I didn't see a lot of average reactions to Bri's situation. I was reminded of several situations that I have witnessed in person over the years. In fact, I felt like I was reading some kind of memoir, whether it was the author's own story, or an account of someone (a couple of people?) that she knew on a personal level.
The story almost reminded me of an After School Special, in that it had a lot of messages for teenage girls. Yes, you can get pregnant having sex just one time. Yes, you need to get away from abusive boyfriends. Yes, prejudice still exists and people want to believe the Golden Boy is perfect. Yes, people fear that pregnant girls are a bad influence on others. Yes, some parents are complete assholes. Yes, there are adults whom you can trust and you should seek them out. Happy endings are not a guarantee. Bri also shared a lot of her learned knowledge about pregnancy through her thoughts and actions. One particular point that stuck out in my mind was the importance of colostrum after birth. Dramatic scenes also made it play out like a movie or a soap opera miniseries.
Bri is a very determined young woman, with a mix of naivety and maturity all rolled into one, almost contradictory in a way. She is afraid of getting help when she needs it, yet is able to create a masterful plan of revenge to protect herself and her baby. These situations are definitely quite complicated.
Matt, her best friend, is a godsend. He has always taken care of her and has his own past secrets that shape his actions. He also seems to have a lot of money for a young man, and I'm not sure from where that all came.
The omniscient narration mostly focused on Bri's point-of-view, but also sometimes jumped into the heads of other characters in the middle of a section or chapter. On occasion it would throw me off, but I would quickly get back on track.
I felt like something was wanting in this book, but at the same time I was compelled to finish it in one evening. Bri is on one heck of a roller coaster ride. A few plot twists keep you on your toes. I didn't feel like I strongly connected to the characters, yet was choked up a couple of times. I definitely think that teens could learn something from it.
Since then, Candy has released three other books in The Eternal Series and will release another later in 2014. Now, Candy is trying her hand at more contemporary pieces of work, like that of Lean on Me and other books she will release in 2014.
Some of Candy’s interests include the usual reading and writing, music (of most types), movies (action and comedy or any combination of the two), cartoons (she loves to say that her children watch cartoons because she does), and drawing. She loves talking with her fans and loves reading the reviews that her fans are kind enough to leave for her. Always feel free to find Candy on Facebook and send her a message!
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