In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Description: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore.

While Zoe and Will fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake.

Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

In Leah’s Wake was a tough book for me to read. Not because it wasn’t a good book, it was. It was just brutally honest, especially when reading it from my perspective, the mother of a teenager girl.
Leah is the oldest daughter of Zoe and Will and she has a younger sister, Justine. Leah is a good kid, she is a soccer star, a good student and is part of a great and loving family. Seems perfect, but nothing is what it seems. She feels pressured by her dad to be the perfect soccer player down to playing for the perfect college – Harvard no less. She is pressured by her mom to be the perfect daughter and student and then she has her bratty younger sister Justine looking up to her. Way too much pressure. Leah is looking for an escape, and she finds it in her older “cool” boyfriend Todd. All it takes for Leah to spiral is to make a couple of really bad decisions.
Terri gives all the family members a voice in this book, which really adds to the perspective. I think if you only got one point of view it wouldn’t have been as powerful a book. As a parent it would be really easy to blame all of the unfortunate events that happen in this story on Leah. With the different perspectives you realize that every member of the family holds some blame in the events that unravel the threads keeping them in one piece.
Will blows up too fast at times and reacts rather than thinks, he’s also rarely there, which doesn’t help at all. Zoe is either too strict or too lenient and feels sorry for herself most of the time. Justine wants to make everyone happy and unwittingly justifies some of Leah’s bad decisions. And Leah, of course, makes some really bad decisions and she can’t seem to turn herself around. Through all of the bad actions and decisions made by these characters, there is good in all of them. There are times that you even find yourself sympathizing with Todd who obviously should have no redeeming qualities.
In Leah’s Wake makes you stop, think and count your blessings, especially as a parent. It would be so easy for any “good kid” to travel down the wrong path with the wrong group of kids.
Terri’s writing of Leah’s perspective struck me the most I think. An unknowing reader may think that it was sometimes sporadic and didn’t make sense. However, if you are reading it from the same perspective as I was, you completely understood. There were days that my daughters would change moods by the hour or even minute. As I read these little mood swings in Leah’s voice I almost had to say “Aha!” out loud.
In my opinion, Terri did a wonderful job of capturing the dynamics of this family. Even though it was a hard book to read from an emotional standpoint, it was well worth the time spent and should be on every parent’s TBR list.

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