Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Entangled Teen
Published March 5th 2013 by Entangled Teen
The full review can be found at Rainy Day Ramblings.What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?
You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
You’d be wrong. There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about. What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open? But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies. And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?
A revealing and honest look at a teenager in peril.
Cassie refuses to think back to what happened on prom night and the bad path her life
has taken since then. She has closed her heart off and she won't let anyone in. Not
after what Aaron did. She is going to suck it up and somehow get through the next thirty
days at Turning Pines. Cassie knows it is going to be tough, and it will likely be one of
the worst experiences of her life, but the alternatives are worse. What she doesn't
count on, is finding someone there who just might be worth letting in. Can Cassie deal
with her past and open her heart?
What I Liked:
• I had no illusions going into this one like I did last year when I read Pretty Amy. I was
expecting Pretty Amy to be a light, fluffy read all about going to prom, what I got was
a tough look at three teenage girls making bad decisions due to their lack of self
worth. This time, I knew that Cassie's story would be even more raw and I was right.
This is not an easy novel to read, probably why I don't review more contemporary, it
was tough at times and it stressed me out, but through it all, I saw a girl struggling to
find herself and prove that her life mattered. Cassie's journey of self discovery takes
place during a month long stay at Turning Pines which is one of those rehab camps
where they send juvenile delinquents. It is not a fun place to stay by any means and it
was an eye opening experience to read this one. If you ever wondered about the type
of people who are sent to these camps and what they undergo read this book.
• Cassie is a touch character to like. On one hand she is smart and funny, some of her
lines are so sarcastic that they made me laugh, but on the other hand she is so closed
off and damaged that it is hard to get the full picture. She is a girl who has never
really been shown kindness in her life, except from her brother. Her father serves in
the military so he is always gone, her mother is consequently always drunk because
she can't deal with his absence. Cassie has never been cuddled and loved and told
that she mattered. So she is angry to the point of being combative and she doesn't
know the first thing about love and trust. The one time she lets a boy in, she suffers
some catastrophic consequences which shatter the fragile trust she established. Now
she is broken, gutted if you will, and trying to survive each day at the camp. During her
stay, Cassie slowly analyzes all the bad that happened to her, comes to terms with it,
and she begins to take those tentative steps to trust and hope and believing she is
worth it. Keep in mind her self discovery is harsh and brutal at times and gut
wrenching, but in the end I am glad I went on the journey with Cassie.
• I appreciated that this book dealt with some very challenging topics such as
pregnancy and abortion and the devastating aftermath. Cassie's experience is painful,
scarring and revealing.
• This is one of those contemporary novels that will stick with me because it is so
honest and it doesn't hold back. Cassie puts forth a tough exterior. On the outside
she is a girl who smokes, curses and makes bad choices and doesn't seem to care
what the world thinks of her, but on the inside she is scared, alone and desperately
wanting to be loved. Even though she wouldn't want it, I wanted to hug her.
Dear Cassie is a good follow up to Pretty Amy. In fact, I much preferred Cassie's voice
to Amy's since Cassie doesn't sit around and feel sorry for herself and she is more in
your face. This book takes at harsh look at a teenage girl floundering with the
pressures of today's society as she tries to find herself and learn her own self worth.
The story is raw and gritty and it isn't easy, but in the end, I enjoyed watching those first
hesitant baby steps that Cassie takes to hopefully what will be a brighter future. This
book isn't for everyone, but if you are someone who enjoys realistic, gut wrenching
reads, get this one.
"The "cabin" looked like a shack built by a homicidal maniac---you know, the place he
keeps his blood-splattered murder tools and rotting corpses. The door creaked as
Rawe opened it---that a room you enter and may never leave creak."
"I already knew what I was capable of, and I wouldn't want to be in a cabin in the woods
alone with me."
"Rawe said that if we knew where we came from, it would be easier to see how we'd
ended up where we'd ended up. The crap not falling far from the butthole and all that."
"I would have liked to be drinking stolen beer from the cooler, but after the arrest, my
mother did a sobriety check every time I came home. Which was beyond ironic,
considering my mother's breath could have gotten me drunk."
"You look like a naked, upside-down female synchronized swimmer in need of a wax," I
spit through the water. "Desperately."
"Um, maybe," I said, even though I was positive if I kneeled down to pray, the sky would
open up and lightning would fly out like octopus arms and burn me to a crisp. I didn't
deserve to pray. Not that anyone but my brother knew it, but I didn't deserve anything
except to go take a crap in a pit toilet."
"If this is what I am now---a girl who used to know who she was, who used to be able to
make people afraid of her, but is now only scared of herself. Of what she will do if she
lets one more boy in."
"They probably had the kind of parents who would always tell them they were awesome,
even when they sucked. I had the kind who told me I sucked when I sucked."
"You ned to live this life." she whispered. "You can live it with regret, or you can let it go."
Disclosure: A big thanks to Entangled Copy for providing me a review copy in exchange for
an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this
Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats. She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous. You can find out more about Lisa on her website, blog, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.
I have always had a healthy passion for reading. My love of books started at an early age, as soon as I could read my life long love affair for books began. Reading to me is one of the finest pleasures in life. My guilty indulgence is a good book, a soft blanket and a cozy concoction. It is thrilling to hold a book in your hands and wonder at the secrets that are buried deep within. Then page by page the story pours out revealing it's heart and soul until there is nothing left to show; nothing left to say. To me a good book is one that continues to call to you after completion. The characters are still whispering in your mind; their story threads reaching out to entangle you even as you pick up another book to start the wonderful process anew. Each book is a new adventure, a new story, another find. That is why I read!
I am currently a stay at home mother of two toddlers, who keep me very busy. I also have a wonderful, supportive husband without whom this blog would not be possible. I am a recent transplant to the rainy, region of Portland, Oregon; thus the reason for my blog Rainy Day Ramblings. The many rainy days here provide me ample time to snuggle up under a comfy blanket with a cat and read while the rain drips down my window.
I also, when I find time, enjoy baking, candle and jewelry making, cross stitching and spending ample time with family.
Find me on my blog, facebook, and twitter.