Monday, January 04, 2016

Sweet Fall (Sweet Home Book 2) by Tillie Cole

“We all have secrets. Secrets well buried. Until we find the one soul who makes the burden of 

such secrets just that little bit easier to bear.”

 Each book in this series is better than the last. 
HOW is that even possible???

“It’s funny. I used to look up at the stars and feel so small and unimportant. But I’ve come to realize that the only thing that can ever make you feel alive and important is the one person who takes you for you.”

When I began this series a few days ago, I was totally unprepared for what I was getting into. This series has been recommended to me many, many times by both bloggers and readers alike. Everyone raving about what a an amazing series it is, and although I was late to kickoff, I have now found myself at the end of the third book, the second book in the series actually, and emotionally I feel worn, wrung out and my heart still aches a bit. Rome and Molly’s story was very intense and powerful, very emotional and heartfelt. Of and then I decided to read the next book immediately, probably not the smartest move I ever made, but now I wouldn’t change a thing. Sweet Fall is Lexi and Austin’s story and I wasn’t clever enough to read the blurb first, I just dove in head first feeling excited for yet another book in a series that had totally been owning me thus far. I opened the book and read the first pages and that was enough to tell me, that this book was going to be intense in a whole new way. When an author shares pieces of themselves in a story no matter how small, it is always magical, but when they pour their most intimate experiences and struggles into a story it becomes something else. More real, more personal, more affecting. Knowing where Tillie Cole was going to go and what she would have to re-live in order to create this story had my heart aching before I had even began the reading the actual story…

“If I had a type, he would be it. But I didn’t date and from what I’d heard, neither did he.”

Lexi and Austin were introduced to us in Sweet Home, and we saw even more of them in Sweet Rome, but we didn’t know very much about them other than they were members of the core group, close friends with both Molly and Rome, Cass, Ally and JD. We knew that Austin was a phenomenal football player, a wide receiver aiming to land on NFL Draft just as Rome had, he has a reputation, two brothers, a sick Momma, and that Rome was one of the only people that knew about his childhood and the life he ultimately left behind to attend UA. Molly is a young woman who on the outside appears, happy, perky, peppy and easy going despite her emo clothes and makeup. She is also a member of the UA cheerleading squad, a position that she has wanted to hold since she started going to school here 3 years ago. What we learn in Sweet Fall is that we didn’t know much at all, Lexi and Austin have so much going on in their lives that no one else knows about. Both of them are only showing others what they want them to see. They are both wearing masks. Austin is struggling with guilt and obligation, feeling like he has abandoned his family in many ways and Lexi is struggling to hold onto her recovery, but losing the battle daily. Recovery from what? I’m not going into that, but I will say this, it is something that in one way or another has affected most women at one point in their life. The disease is terrifically brutal.

Lexi and Austin’s story is going to hold you in its very firm grasp from the moment you begin until you’ve absorbed every last word. Their relationship is complicated and it seems doomed from the very start, but it’s also a relationship that you find yourself rooting for, even when it seems impossible. Tillie Cole didn’t just write a story with this book, she called on some very powerful emotions and revisited what I’m sure had to be a very hard time in her life in order to give us this book, I cannot imagine what that must have been like for her, but saying that it is incredibly brave, is just a massive understatement. I felt every ounce of the sadness, conflict, and struggle, but I also felt the courage, the determination and in the end the peace that came once the story was finally winding to a close.

“I don’t need to look up at the stars to feel inferior, Austin. All I have to do is open my eyes and look at myself in the mirror.”

“So you see, Pix, I have scars too. It’s just mine are on the outside where everyone can see.”

The story is not for the faint of heart, it goes to some dark places at times, and what plagues these characters along the way is not resolved easily. Sweet Fall is astonishing; it’s a vivid story that will have your emotions running all over the place. I shed more tears over the course of this book, then I’m sure is normal or socially acceptable but the story is just so intense that it was impossible to not become lost in it. I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn’t real time and time again. When I finally finished it, I was left grinning ear to ear, like a total loon, and my heart felt healed. I felt overjoyed for Lexi and Austin. I am so proud of how far they had come from where they had started and how much they had grown and overcome to get to their own very special happily ever after.

“Why the war paint, Pix?

Because I can't stand the girl underneath....
"Why the tattoos ?"
Because I can't bear seeing the scars of my past.”

Sweet Fall is overwhelmingly emotional and powerful; it might also be the best book I’ve read by Tillie Cole to date. That’s saying a lot because I have read all of the Hades Hangmen books and I loved those as well. Something about this book though resonated with on a much deeper level. That connection and those overwhelming feelings we have only when we experience a truly great book is why we all read isn’t it? This book reminded me all over again of why I started my blog, why I now read and review, and why it is truly an honor to spend hours wrapped up in the stories that will never leave our hearts or minds.

“But I’m lost without you. I can’t breathe without you. Without you here, all I can do is fall…”

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