Summary from Goodreads:
It would’ve been different if I had courage, even an ounce of it. But I was a coward from the day I met you, Ryan Crowley. I still am. In the end it doesn’t matter. The bottom line is the same. It’s my fault.
When the unthinkable happens Carly Cavanough is left beaten, betrayed, and devastated. Her best friend doesn’t understand. Her parents won’t listen. Everyone in her life turns against her. She’s alone. Completely alone, except for Ryan Crowley, the boy she’s been crushing on for years. She won’t admit to him what she can’t admit to herself. But he understands without words. He knows more about what she’s going through than she can possibly imagine and he knows what it will take to start the healing.
With Ryan’s help Carly begins to piece together the fragments of her once perfect life and embarks on a journey of love and healing, just long enough for the rug to be pulled out from under her again. Can she find the strength and will to pull herself together to save Ryan and herself when their lives are on the line?
I really have been striving to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to the books I read. I used to only read light and fluffy or paranormal books. I’ve really delved into the world of contemporary and have even challenged myself by picking up books with more heavy and often tough subject matter. To My Hero challenged me but not because it wasn’t a good book. It was about rape. There’s no way to sugar-coat the topic nor do I want to. It’s not a book for people who can’t deal with the bad parts of life, the dark, and the downright horrific. However, this book was so, SO important.
Rape is an all too common occurrence in society and unfortunately it is one of the most under-reported crimes committed. It’s also used a lot as a plot device in contemporary literature. Frankly, I don’t particularly enjoys this BECAUSE people tend to use it as a characters “fatal flaw” or to portray them as damaged and then when it’s revealed as to have happened to the character it causes little conflict and is brushed aside. I find this pretty a) unrealistic and b) slightly offensive. I want to make it clear right now, Danielle DOES NOT do this in To My Hero. It’s one of the first works of fiction that I have read that deals with rape head on. She doesn’t hide the facts, she hits it straight at the heart. I was so impressed that Danielle even tried to tackle this issue and even more impressed that she handled it in a way that showed she did her research.
There were all sorts of things that totally floored me in this book. I could NOT believe Carly’s parents. They were so cold and I was honestly appalled by the way her father spoke to/treated her. I honestly had to put my Kindle down a few times from fear of throwing it across the room and breaking it. THAT is how angry I was. I was not at all shocked that Carly didn’t want to report her rape, nor was it at all surprising when she didn’t want to confide in them. It amazes me that parents can honestly do this to their children. I always thought it was a parent’s job to protect their child no matter what, but all too often parents let their need to keep up appearances affect the way they interact and parent their children. It’s just amazing and utterly appalling.
Moving on to the MC’s, Carly and Ryan. Carly and Ryan have always noticed each other. At one point they were pretty close and then a misunderstanding led them to a falling out. So when Carly is raped by her boyfriend, Will, at a party at whichRyan is also in attendance, it’s Ryan who finds her, beaten, traumatized, and completely alone. In that moment, we learn A LOT about Ryan’s character. He doesn’t run away but rather he stays with her, takes her home, and really tries to help her. Ryan just gets even better from there, he doesn’t treat Carly like “damaged goods.” He continues to be her confidant despite the challenges that lie ahead.
Carly was an impressive character. Although she experienced a lot of lows, she didn’t let what happened to her completely ruin her life. I admired her for that. I also loved the way Danielle allowed Carly to feel all the emotions expected from someone who experiences rape. She didn’t allow Carly to brush what happened to her aside. She even showed all the ways in which it affected her friendships and her blossoming relationship with Ryan. There were times I was a little skeptical, I will admit. I thought maybe Carly was all of a sudden going to get over what happened to her, and that would have been upsetting. Her relationship with Ryan definitely had it’s challenges. Carly had to deal with the guilt, shame, and embarrassment she felt about what happened to her. She also had to deal with knowing that the person she loved knew what happened to her and worry about whether he judged her for it.Ryan chose to love and support Carly through the whole situation but that didn’t mean it didn’t take it’s toll on him. It did. He struggled with Carly’s rage, uncertainty, and guilt, as well. It was a tough situation for them both, and they didn’t always handle it well. There was some drama and some pretty low spots. It was real, and that’s what I loved about it.
Overall, this book was phenomenally well done. It really captured an often avoided issue. Many authors, like I said before, will use rape as a plot device but not as the basis OF their plot. It was an engaging read and when I wasn’t angry at Carly’s parents, I found it difficult to put down. It was, however, highly emotional and I definitely cried in quite a few places, so have your tissues ready. I was highly impressed by To My Hero and was glad I gave it a try. It was a journey of love, healing, and learning to forgive oneself. Highly recommended.
*I was provided an eCopy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.