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All the feels. Every single last one of them. As I was reading certain heartbreaking parts of this beautiful book my eyes were streaming with tears. Nothing has made me feel all the feels in so long! Heart wrenching, Life altering, Emotional.
Toward the Sound of Chaos was my first Carmen Jenner book and I’m absolutely livid that I’ve waited this long to read one of her books. Carmen has a beautiful way with words and has created two damaged people who’s only solace in life is ‘the same’. Change is not acceptable in the worlds they live in but change is also inevitable.
“On any given day I feel as if I’m taking one baby step forward and eight giant leaps back. In my head, I repeat the bulls*** mantra of my shrink: Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day”.
Jake Tucker is a tortured and broken soul and as far as he’s concerned beyond repair. He lives his life one moment at a time struggling through each and every moment and suffering through the PTSD he brought home with him from the war. PTSD isn’t the only companion he brought home from the war, physical scars now mar his beautiful body. His trusty sidekick Nuke is there at every step but even he can’t help with the pain and torture that still lives in his head and his body. Jake was a complex character who was a walking contradiction. Sometimes when you’re reading from Ellie’s POV it’s almost like he’s a completely different character which to me felt like that was the way that Ellie saw him. Completely different to how Jake saw himself when you read from his POV.
I’ve never read a book about a marine before nor about someone suffering with PTSD and I found it incredible the way that Carmen could articulate how Jake was suffering. It was written in such a respectful way and definitely opened my eyes to the sacrifices of war. Yes Jake was lucky enough to make it home when other’s didn’t but he never really returned whole. He was fragmented and broken. Carmen wrote Jake perfectly.
“That’s the thing about wishes, though—they’re just that. Hopes thrown out to the universe, swept away on a breeze and left up to fate.”
Ellie Mason is from a very different background to Jake. She didn’t grow up in his small town, she moved there on a whim with her son Spencer, while escaping her own demons. Spencer has Autism and is just as troubled as Jake sometimes. The way Carmen wrote about how much Ellie had to go through just to get through the day with Spencer was so surprising to me. I understand Autism but i never really thought about how much it affects the parents. How hard it must be to have a child that can’t tell you they love you which is something I’m sure most people take for granted.
Toward the Sound of Chaos was a beautiful eye opener for me. It was the story of two beautiful people just trying to find a place in a harsh world and just trying to make it to the next day. The character development for Jake and Spencer was so well written and felt like it fitted in with the development of the plot perfectly. It was respectful, real and unpredictable just like PTSD and Autism. Carmen has done PTSD Survivors and those Autism justice in the way she has described what they suffer through on a daily basis and should be commended for how well written this beautiful book is.
“There’s no bravery in running away, but there can be in surrender. Sometimes to surrender to someone else’s chaos is the bravest thing you can do.”
Elle's life literally revolved around Spencer and trying to manage his autism. Her mornings, nights and weekends were consumed with trying to manage his environment and attempt to minimize his "meltdowns". Spencer was ostracized at school and when his meltdowns happened in public, Elle had to deal with judgemental onlookers who believed his behavior was her fault and due to a lack of discipline. In short, Spencer's autism was exhausting and all consuming; and while sometimes she wished things were easier, she loved him fiercely and wouldn't trade him for the world.
Jake's life after the military was heartbreaking. His body was ravaged by his injuries and his mind plagued with severe PTSD. The compilation of survivor's guilt, recurring pain, continual flashbacks and nightmares were devastating and debilitating. While not extraordinarily lengthy or too terribly graphic, Jake's flashbacks and nightmares were difficult to read. There was even a point where I considered skipping them. Ultimately, I put on my big girl panties and waded through them. Even though this story and these characters are a work of fiction, I decided that skipping theses scenes would disrespect and dishonor all of the REAL American servicemen and women who've been through h€ll while serving their country. War is ugly, death doesn't discriminate and freedom isn't free; my discomfort pales in comparison to the real suffering of our veterans.
Elle and Jake's love story was by no means instant anything. They exchanged polite nods in public, but only looked and appreciated from afar; never believing anything could ever come of it. That is, of course, until fate intervened. What started as a pseudo friendship developed into A tender but delicate romance fraught with the complications. Elle was the light in Jake's dark world and she loved him scars and all. Theirs was a journey of self discovery. Inevitably, Elle realized she couldn't fix Jake and began to understand that she and Spencer deserved a man they could count on. Jake needed to forgive himself, quit drinking, take his meds and get proper counseling in an effort to become a functional, productive man Elle and Spencer could rely on..
This was a well told emotional story about understanding, forgiveness, worthiness, service to others, and most of all, love.
I realize the author isn't American, but I had one minor complaint; I'm a southerner and over many years I have traveled extensively throughout the south and neither I, nor anyone I know, speak the way these characters do. While it mildly annoyed me, it didn't ruin my enjoyment, or take away from the overall theme. Well worth "all the feels"...............d:)
"We need to sort out a way to make all of those beautiful puzzle pieces inside his brain fit together."
Ellie us written so beautifully by Carmen, who give us a beautiful and genuine portral of a mum trying desperately hard to cope with a son who has is on the autism spectrum and has a sensory processing disorder. Everything about these two is so heartfelt and genuine, and their relationship is crucial to the story.
Jake, the ex-Marine, suffers from PTSD and is struggling to function in a world that celebrates soldiers in their return from war and then forgets about them once the fanfare dies down.
"My brain fights me at every turn, and it wins, because how do you fight a battle that only wages within your head?"
I fell in love with Jake and Ellie (and Spencer too!) and having already read The Way Back Home which is Olivia's (Elle's best friend) story, it was so nice to find out more about Paws for Cause and see it working so well with Jake and Nuke.
I could write an essay on my for this book - it was the type of perfection that I'm so used to getting from Carmen. From autism to PTSD, from temper tantrums to nightmares, from love to heartbreak and hope, Carmen treats everything in this story with respect, honesty and authenticity. And I'm looking forward to reading the last few books of hers that are still on my TBR list!