True Love Way by Mary Elizabeth
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary Romance
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 own exhaustion has taken a backseat to the concern and heartbreak I experience whenever I look at this girl. How helpless I am around her has made a home deep inside my gut, and I can't shake how guilty it makes me feel.
There is so much I could say about the subject matter of this book. I have read a few that deal with depression, but True Love Way offers an insight to the other side of the battle. And despite this heartbreaking and serious subject that's present throughout the entire book, I found the story to also be very sweet and heartwarming. This is a story of first and only love, of pure love, and selfless love, with sadness laced through it. This is a story about young love and small kids with big problems. This a story about counting each and every smile, hoping to God it outnumbers the tears.
This inability to control her emotions and sadness paralyzes me. All I can do is worry, wanting so badly to make her life easier and feeling guilty because I can't.
Penelope is a girl born with a genetic deficiency that causes her to be utterly and devastatingly sad sometimes. Soul-crushing, bone-deep hurt grips her sometimes and doesn't let go despite everyone's best efforts. Symptoms started showing as early as age two. By the age of five, she started hiding behind sunglasses, wanting to be invisible.
"Dillon," Penelope whispers. "Sometimes I'm so sad.""That's okay."
The first time Dillon sees Penelope, she is moving in the house next door and they are twelve years old. He can't stop looking with puppy-dog eyes and wonderment at the girl with the sunglasses on. Penelope is equally captivated by her instant new best friend. Every morning they go to school together, they play together and they write notes across the lawn at night, staring at each other through their bedroom windows. They become inseparable and Dillon manages to make Penelope's sad better.
As the years pass by, friendship turns into a relationship. By this time, teenage hormones are added to the mix and her depression hits in full force more often than not. Dillon takes care of her as best as he can, trying to make her smile, trying to make her happy. But as she gets older, it gets harder.
She trusts me enough to let me have her love. Penelope comes to me when she needs help.
But I can't save her.I can't make the tears stop.Nothing I do anymore works.
It is heartbreaking to see Dillon care so much, try so hard, love so fierce, only for him to remain powerless when it comes to making her sad better. He sacrifices his own sleep to stay up with her when she can't sleep. He skips out on school to hold her while she cries sadness and pain. He dedicates his life to her, because it's what she needs, until nothing works anymore. No matter how much Dillon gives, Penelope will always keep that feeling of sorrow and nothingness deep inside her. Some days are better than others. Some days are good. And some days are just bad.
There's not a thing I want more than to disappear, but it's impossible because I'm made of nothing.
The second half was so good. There's some heartbreaking drama somewhere after the halfway point that includes boarded up windows. I understood this so well, because where some may relate to Penelope, I completely related to Dillon. I've been there, caring for someone who's just hopeless. After draining all of my energy for two years, I had to end it for my own sake. But Dillon's love transcends all in the end. It provides enough fuel to keep fighting and caring for Penelope forever. And that is why this is a heartwarming story. It's sad, but it's the true love way. Both Penelope and Dillon tried to deal with her condition as best as they could. They made a few mistakes along the way, but came out stronger for it. True Love Way had the perfect amount of humor, angst, sadness and happiness.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who needs a quick, but emotional read. As a reviewer though, I feel like I should list the negatives as well as the positives. I had small issues with the writing. Mary has apparently developed the habit of referring to characters by their description. Example: Sleeplessness can stay up until the sun rises. (Sleeplessness = Penelope). I'm not digging it. It's distracting and happened way too often, especially during the first half. Expressionless, Ruthlessness, Disturbance, Brightness, Thoughtfulness, etc. And their mothers were called the woman who gave me life constantly. Once or twice is cute. All the time is not. I absolutely love Mary Elizabeth as an author and her stories always seem to hit my emotional strings. I have no doubt she will only continue to grow and provide even more heart-aching, true and raw stories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.
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