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A stunning debut

Awakening Foster Kelly - Cara Rosalie Olsen

Thank you to the author for sending me this e-book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I was contacted regarding a review for this book. Tuesday night after my last exam I settled into bed, got comfortable and started to read. Four hours later, it was the middle of the night, the rest of the world was asleep, and I was enraptured. I couldn't put it down. Even though reading on a ten inch tablet can be frustrating, I didn't let this stop me as I powered through a good chunk of this 600+ page novel in one night. A couple of days later, when I reached the end, it was again the middle of the night and I lay awake for another hour, turning the whole thing over in my mind. I couldn't not think about it. What a book. I loved it. Not all the time, but overall I just adored it.

Foster Kelly is a senior at Shorecliffs High School, a musical genius who keeps to herself and has a penchant for tripping over her own feet. Her name has caused her quite a bit of grief over the years, and she prefers to keep to herself. On moving to Shorecliffs, she was befriended by the twins Emily and Jake, both full of life and fun. Still Foster keeps to the shadows of life, not wanting to bring attention to herself, much more an observer of high school life. Her life is brightened by her parents who she adores and the kids she cares for at the House of Hope. Her life changes the day she meets Dominic Kassells, who shakes up her quiet life. He challenges her and encourages her and gives her the push she needs to really start taking part in life. He also recognises how she needs to help herself - which was, to me, a very important realisation.

This book is about first love and the amazing things it can do, but it also about finding who you are and being true to all versions of yourself. Foster's slow progress through the novel, her confrontations with the half-truths she had been hiding behind, and her building confidence was heart warming to read. I felt like I was a part of Foster's journey. I smiled for her, was happy when things went right, my heart broke alongside hers, and then was amazed with the discovery toward the end of the novel. I laughed at her friends, Emily and Jake, who were brilliant characters. I cheered as she started to do things for herself. My heart melted as I watched her literally trip and fall in love. I felt protective of her, too. There were times when what I was reading would make me nervous and I wanted to shield her from the pangs that mistrust and heartbreak could bring. I felt like I knew her.

That being said, as much as I adored Foster and this book, I can recognise that this is not going to be for everyone. The plot development is slow, due to the fact that we read from Foster's perspective and everything she does is thoughtful, deliberate. She is not impulsive and does not make spontaneous decisions. Before she speaks, she gives every word a lot of thought. A single moment in time could be described over two pages. But this is necessary as it gives the reader an accurate picture of who Foster. Not everyone will understand, but to really understand the book you need to understand Foster. There were a few things that frustrated me, particularly to do with her budding relationship with Dominic, but the key word is patience. You need to patient to work through Foster's thoughts and to progress through the book. I would feel frustrated, like I needed answers more than Foster did, and because she didn't actively chase them, we didn't get them straight away. However, if you are patient, you will be rewarded. Everything makes sense in the end.

This is what kept me up so late, those light bulb moments coming on more and more as I got closer to the end. The wait is worth it when you get that 'oh, it all makes sense' moment of realisation. It kept me thinking about it long after I had finished reading. All my thoughts, feelings, ran around my head for an hour before I could sleep, and it's all I've though about all morning. This book has had quite an effect on me. A wonderful, wonderful read. I am buying a copy for my bookshelf because until I do, it will feel empty without it! A deserving five stars to a book that has given me a lot to think about.