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Dear Stephanie Kindle Edition
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"Beneath a Scarlet Sky" by Mark Sullivan
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I admit that I only bought it as a courtesy to my friend, because I'm not a voracious reader and this sort of story didn't seem like the kind that I'd spend much time becoming interested in. As I mentioned, I was wrong.
Paige Preston is an addict. She's what some would call a whore, a user, a druggie and an overall manipulative bitch. The joy of books though is that we get to see what's going on inside the minds of those we'd otherwise be judging pretty harshly from the outside. Paige is a lot of things, including depressed. The suffocating grip of depression is hard to notice on a person who's so beautiful, wealthy and seemingly carefree as Paige Preston, but it's there in her everyday life, stealing her ability to just live freely.
Dear Stephanie exposes the demons inside Paige's head as she vacillates between happiness and sadness and struggles with the constant self-doubt depression demands, even of seemingly perfect people. She is very much aware of her good looks, money and entitled lifestyle, but the trade off is what price is she paying for living this way? Can she be happy? Does she deserve to be loved? Does everything and everyone she loves fall apart or abandon her at some point because she deserves it?
Paige has accepted that she is paying for the sins of her lifestyle choices with shallow relationships and meaningless sexual flings, until one day she inexplicably finds love right in front of her face. Mandi's description of Paige's struggle to accept love and happiness by unloading her negativity and self-doubt is brilliant. So many little nuances make this story a gripping read. I highly recommend it.
I was wrong. It was better.
Paige Preston is beautiful, aesthetically enhanced in any and every way possible in the quest for perfection. She’s filthy rich and lives an incredibly priveleged life.
If you don’t hate her already then let me add that gorgeous men fall at her feet, not caring they are only being used to quell her addiction to sex. She uses her sexuality to get what she wants from whomever she wants it, then leaves them bleeding in her wake. Top that off with her bitterness toward her family, her drug habit, and her disregard for human emotion and you have a full on despicable human.
But….Mandi Castle has proven that she is a master of the twist. As the tale unfolds you learn what has molded Paige into the woman she is. Looks and privelege aside…..she is a vessel filled with pain and torment. A shattered vessel, broken beyond repair.
Or is she?
It’s very difficult to write a review on a book that you just want to read out loud to the world to make certain that they get the chance to experience the story. It reaches in and doesn’t just touch the many different levels of human emotion; it grabs on and doesn’t let go.
In the end, you may still find that you hate Paige, but you will also find that you love her, some may even be able to empathize to an extent.
The emotional ride this book took me on left me sitting still, mouth hanging open, then wondering, out loud, how Ms. Castle could do this to me.
I sit here in hopes that soon I will have the privilege of reading what happens after….
A masterfully written debut novel. Congratulations, Mandi! And very well done.
Upon completing the book, I am speechless. The further I got into the book the more I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Would Paige realize how much Blake really cares for her? Would she finally be truly forthcoming with her therapist about her life? Would she finally realize pills, alcohol, and gratuitous sex are not the answer to her problems? What would Blake say once she told him about her whole life and not just the things she chose to tell him?
The more I read after getting halfway the more intense the story became. On a couple of occasions I found myself sobbing and sometimes I was laughing. I haven't given a book a 5 star rating in quite some time but felt this book deserved nothing less after I finished.