Thursday, June 13, 2013

REVIEW: THE UPSIDE OF LETTING GO BY NACOLE STAYTON


Haley Martin is no stranger to loss. One tragic event takes her entire family, leaving lingering nightmares to torment her at every turn. She decides the only way to let go of those nightmares is to literally move away from all that is familiar. Boarding a Greyhound bus, she leaves behind her past filled with heartbreak and misery, in hopes of starting a new life.

By accident she meets Kyler King, a beautiful young man with a tragic past as well. He has no interest in settling down with anyone. With a reputation as being emotionally unattainable, he uses this fa├žade to hide the burdens he bears every day.

As Kyler and Haley’s physical attraction becomes deeper, the secrets they have kept hidden threaten to surface. An unannounced visitor causes their pasts to collide with their present. Will their secrets prove to be too big of an obstacle, hindering their happily ever after, or will letting go be the key that locks their bond forever?

Warning: This book is intended for readers 17+ due to explicit language and sexual encounters.

Published April 19th 2013 by Nacole Stayton

Where to Find The Upside of Letting Go

Where to Find Nacole Stayton:

I really had high hopes for this one, but am still having pretty mixed feelings about it. I struggle when I think the words "the premise was great" because it is the best I've got. It was missing something that would push it over the top into the love category that I needed it to. I think it might be how hard of a time I had with connecting with Haley for a pretty long while. In some aspects her Jersey attitude was seriously mean. I get that some people don't get the slowness and differences of the south, but since I was born there and never left I might have a biased opinion! Haley's struggles are heartbreaking and the feelings when she let us in on those were a lot of the parts that I enjoyed the most. She is definitely lost and this story epitomizes letting go and finding your way back, hence the title! 

Courtney, I also had high hopes for this novel and I DO think that the premise was a good one, the execution is what left me wanting. Poor Haley is suffering from the ginormous pain of losing her entire family and the resulting consequences of her actions after their deaths--she feels a ton of guilt from pushing away those who tried hard to help her through that time. She escapes to Alabama to start over and is lucky enough to be paired with a very patient, understanding, and vivacious roommate. She fights so hard against the pain --at the expense, sometimes, of giving herself a chance at happiness at all. She wants to have a fresh start but doesn't want to have love?!! Then the sabotage of the love triangle that she allows to happen before she ends it --FINALLY. I felt for Haley because of the horror of what happened to her family and I also found myself frustrated by her insistence on not trusting anyone, including herself at times.

I must first say that I love Kyler's name. This may because because I have a couple of favorite book boys named Kai, but I really, really like it, so I really, really liked when she called him Ky. I feel like I had a hard time connecting with him too. His entrance into the story was very stunted and hot and cold and made me feel like I was learning how to drive a standard vehicle again including those jarring stops and starts. Once he opens up though, I liked him a lot better and no longer felt this way. Add in his family drama past and present to hers and the angst is heavy. These two deserved a big break, and I was grateful for the scenes between the two of them that didn't involve apologizing or apologizing for what they've dealt with and why they're reacting a certain way. Those scenes saved the day. I liked that even though he begins with much more of the  player attitude, when he decided that he wanted to work for more with Haley he stuck with it. No back and forth on his part and I thought that was awesome.

I saw Kyler as also suffering from losing his family too...he used many of Haley's same vices to escape the pain of losing. When he and Haley try to have a 'friends with benefit's type relationship, he's the first one to throw in the towel and call it quits because he wants more. This was a definite plus for him. He's also the one that exhibits almost superhuman strength in his ability to forgive or understand some of Haley's indiscretions--the kiss, the too close relationship with Jude. He does some jealousy induced dumb things but for the most part he's very solid. I think I might actually like him better than I liked Haley and I chalk that up to the sympathetic way he was characterized. 

The scenes where they open up to each other were beautiful, because the things that happen to these two are just heartbreaking. Even without the dramatic things that happen to them in the now, each of their stories in the past and how they deal with it made me sad. I guess I should say the scenes were more about them dealing and finding peace together than really giving a lot of background to their families. Or to me it seemed that way, but in some ways this didn't hurt the path of the story. 

Agreed, Courtney. They work because they understand each other's pain. And I will say this for the novel...the writer gets it--she know exactly how to explain the inability to properly find words to comfort someone when there is loss. These two don't need words because they understand the void left behind after losing so much..and lose they do. It's not just their families...but other soul crushing losses happen along the way. Another plus for this novel--the use of therapy and the virtues of forgiveness, patience and giving multiple opportunities.

There were many moments that went to fast, and a good majority in the beginning. The pace smoothed out better and found a rhythm so it brought it back around to being really enjoyable. The timeline switches weren't necessarily clear, so that took a little getting used to, but was better once we figured out that she was doing that. Jude's storyline was moderately unnecessary with everything else that was going on and made me want to throttle Haley! It ended up being a way for her to come full circle, but she definitely was playing with fire! Heart attack commenced a couple of times. 

The pacing threw me a little and, in my opinion, was what could use more work--the glossing over or quickness at which some things happen...there were definite times when i just felt like the relationship moved too fast or months just disappeared and I was invested enough that I would've liked to see more about how their relationship progressed. My only other minor note would be that the secondary characters (while they are secondary) sometimes felt underdeveloped too.

How I thought things were going to end...oh..em....gee...I would not have been thrilled with that turn of events. No spoilers, but thank goodness it didn't end that way. You'll think it too, and probably freak out a little, but keep going!  Yeah, there was definitely a point when I thought I wouldn't be able to handle one more bad thing happening. But then the epilogue happened and I appreciated that here there was an upside and the title comes full circle.

Finally, I loved the author's note at the end and knowing that she's experienced loss and that she's willing to share that with her readers, I found that to be special and insightful.

Shelley:  3 1/2 Stars
Courtney: 3 Stars

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