Some days are brighter than others, but Penelope Finnel has been taught she can be invisible behind the colored lenses of her heart-shaped sunglasses. Her mind is her worst enemy, and simply waking up in the morning is risky. For a kid like her, staying in bed is easier, especially when the day has come to start school in a new town with new kids who don’t understand that the clouds are not the only reason everything is so gloomy. Dillon Decker is a typical boy from a typical small town who radiates light and happiness. Under the hovering glare from her father, Dillon leads Penelope around on his bicycle’s handlebars, hoping he is the cure to her madness. But when friend turns to lover, and lover turns to caretaker, how much can either of them tolerate before they’re swallowed whole? A story about moving trucks and rollerblades, candy for smiles, and notes across lawns. First loves and the struggle to keep it sane. The true love way.
My dad stares at me like I just told him there’s a dental theories’ seminar for nerd dentists like himself he wasn’t invited to. No, better than that. His face reminds me of that time he realized a grown man had stolen his lucky molar spreader from his office after an extraction and was forced to buy a new, unlucky one. "Are you sure you’re ready?" Dad clears his throat, shutting the door so that Mom doesn’t hear our conversation. Sex is natural, it happens, and it’s a part of becoming a man. Dad told me all of this when he was naming parts on a plastic uterus, and now he wants to know if I’m ready. I wasn’t ready for hair to grow on my balls, but that happened. I wonder how many M&M’s Coach Finnel will give me if I make Pen smile during sex. Those should count as double. "Considering Penelope’s condition, Dillon, committing to a physical relationship with her isn’t very wise." "She’s sad sometimes," I say, swallowing my anger. "Not dying." Pulling the rolling chair out from behind his desk, he sits and takes his glasses off. Dad pinches the bridge of his nose before continuing. "There’s more to it than that, Dillon. Especially in children, and that’s exactly what the two of you are." Excerpt Two: We’re tangled limbs and naked skin, breathing heavily and touching curiously. My bare back stings under the summer sun, and her pale, undressed chest practically glows. A cage of stark white bone, red blood and muscle, and blue veins protect the fragile beating heart beneath. I brush my lips over the diamond-shaped collection of freckles at the base of her throat and push my knees up, opening hers around me. She’s tired-wild and lifeless-living. The dense wall of trees around us protects her from being seen, and the blanket over the grass keeps her comfortable. Far enough out into the woods, only the wildlife will hear her screams. She’s all that matters and safe with me. Sliding my hands up her thin stomach and over her round chest, my girl tilts her head back, and her brown eyes move under her translucent lids. Chapped lips part, and a sound so small escapes I don’t know if I heard it and question my own sanity. "Are you sure this is what you want?" I ask, unbuttoning my shorts. Penelope’s long lashes flutter, and she opens her eyes against sun rays so strong red blotches slowly appear on her outstretched arms. She has green blades of grass in her grip, holding on to Earth so she doesn’t fly away as I slowly push my fingers into her warmest spot. My girl circles her hips over my hand, and I shove deeper, like either one of us knows what this really means. Leaning over her small body, I kiss the length of Pen’s neck and pull her earlobe between my teeth. "We can stop whenever you want," I say, licking the single tear that bleeds from the side of her eye. "I don’t want to," insistence answers with a breathless voice.
Mary Elizabeth is an up and coming author who finds words in chaos, writing stories about the skeletons hanging in your closets. Known as The Realist, Mary was born and raised in Southern California. She is a wife, mother of four beautiful children, and dog tamer to one enthusiastic Pit Bull and a prissy Chihuahua. She's a hairstylist by day but contemporary fiction, new adult author by night. Mary can often be found finger twirling her hair and chewing on a stick of licorice while writing and rewriting a sentence over and over until it's perfect. She discovered her talent for tale-telling accidentally, but literature is in her chokehold. And she's not letting go until every story is told. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."--Jeremiah 17:9
My 5 Star Review
This is my first book by Mary Elizabeth and I was warned that her writing is captivating, but a little angsty. Angst makes me a nervous wreck, so I was a little terrified to start this one, but I am so glad I did. True Love Way is such a unique story of unconditional, true love.
Since the day she and her family moved into the house beside mine, I’ve become obsessed with Penelope Finnel.
From the moment Dillon saw Penelope he knew she was different, special. He knew he shouldn’t like girls, they had cooties and such, but once he befriended Pen it was on. They became best friends, he looked out for her and protected her.
Pen isn’t used to having friends. She knows she is different from other kids and not in the cool way Dillon sees. Pen suffers from mental illness and for most there is no cure, only treatment. At a young age she knew she was different, but didn’t know why. Now as she is getting older, she just wants to fit in like most young girls.
“Why can’t I be normal?”
Over time Pen and Dillion’s friendships develops into more. They have always loved each other, but once they begin to physically change they develop a physical attraction. Dillion and Pen begin dating at a young age, while so many things are changing. As they get older and enter high school cliques are formed. Dillion is smart and popular, while Pen is behind in school and quiet. She is known for being different and as you know different is usually encouraged amongst adolescents.
To me this is when true love really begins comes into play. Dillion doesn’t care if Pen is different, he just wants to love and take care of her. He wants her to be happy, to make her smile, to be herself. Their love isn’t one sided Pen’s self-loathing causes her doubt if they should be together, because she thinks he deserves more. True Love Way is a story about determining if love really does conquer all.
Saying I am impressed or enjoyed this story would be a huge understatement. Mental illness is such a difficult subject that is often times overlooked or minimized, but it’s real. I am not a medical professional, but I loved how her illness was presented. It wasn’t sugar coated, it was real and scary, but true.
This story is beautifully written. It was engaging and heart breaking, but also had moments of humor. This story had my heart racing one second, laughing the next, then came the tears. Even now as I write my review I can’t stop thinking about these characters and their journey.
I read a lot of books and most of the time I rate based on my emotions. Unfortunately there are books I will forget in a few weeks, then there are books I am not sure I will ever forget. I don’t think I will ever forget this book or these heart breaking characters. I am inspired by their strength, unconditional love and devotion.
I highly recommend this story!
“I love you like no other.”
Side note: Just for fun I am including some of my text messages, unfortunately some contain spoilers so they have been blocked out. Here is just a small example of how much this book affected me.
ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.
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