Reclaiming the Sand by A. Meredith Walters
Series: Reclaiming the Sand #1
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: March 17, 2014
Format: eARC, 295 pages
How I got it: From the author
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon
Bully and victim.
Tormenter and tormented.
Villain and hero.
Ellie Mccallum was the bully. The Tormenter. The Villain. Taking what she wanted, stomping over anyone that got in her way. Feelings, futures, and relationships be damned. She felt no emotional connection to anyone or anything. A sad and lonely existence for a young woman who had come to expect nothing more for herself. Her only happiness coming from making others miserable.
Particularly Freaky Flynn.
Growing up, Flynn Hendrick was known only as “Freaky Flynn.” He lived a life completely disconnected even as he struggled to become something more than that boy with Asperger's. He was taunted and teased, bearing the brunt of systematic and calculated cruelty, ultimately culminating in a catastrophic turn of events that brought Ellie and Flynn’s worlds crashing down.
But then Flynn and Ellie grew up.
And moved on.
Until years later when their paths unexpectedly cross again and the bully and the freak are face to face once more.
When labels come to define you, finding yourself feels impossible. Particularly for two people disconnected from the world who inexplicably find a connection in each other.
And out of the wreckage of their tragic beginnings, an unlikely love story unfolds.
But a painful past doesn’t always want to let go. And old wounds are never truly healed…and sometimes the farther you try to run from yourself the closer you come to who you really are.
I’m going to file Reclaiming the Sand under: what did I just read and how on Earth could it make me feel so many emotions? Short answer: an amazing book and A. Meredith Walters is effing brilliant.
Reclaiming the Sand is the story of Ellie and Flynn. These two have a complicated history, to say the least, and they’ve been reunited in their hometown years later. On the surface, Ellie is a bitch with a record. Flynn is a sweet guy with Asperger’s. They grew up together and, at times, were quite close friends. At other times, Ellie and her friends bullied Flynn because he was different. The bullying was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching and it made me hate every single person who was hurting him. Despite the way Ellie treated him while she was with her friends, both then and now, there was always a part of her that connected with him. She blamed him for some of the things that happened in her life and wasn’t at all happy to see him again. That is, until their old connection came roaring to life and they began spending time together and rebuilding their friendship.
Ellie was a complex character. Throughout the book, two different versions of her battled for dominance. There was the Good Ellie (GE) who wants more out of life and who does the right things. Then there was Bad Ellie (BE) who was utterly detestable. She follows the same patterns as her loser, alcoholic, going-nowhere friends. BE is a bully. She might not always agree with her friends and the things they do, but she doesn’t stand up to them either. She was a coward and completely unlikeable. GE was her polar opposite. She was caring and thoughtful and it was easy to root for her and connect with her.
I’m trying to think of another book that has as much character development and growth as this one did. I can’t name one. Series, yes, but I’m talking one single book of the length of this one. It was incredible. You could see Ellie’s growth on every single page. You could also sense her struggle with the way things were and the way she wanted them to be. When she and Flynn became friends again, the more gentle side of her came out and she melted my heart. It was so easy to see how much she cared about him and understood him. She just had to get past caring what other people (namely her friends) thought.
I don’t think I have ever detested a group of characters as much as I did Ellie’s so-called friends. Every page they appeared on had me gritting my teeth and wanting for it to be over. They had no goals or aspirations. Their behavior was deplorable. They truly brought out the worst in Ellie and that’s all I’m going to say about that. They served their purpose, but my word did I hate them.
Because the book is told primarily from Ellie’s POV, I felt like I really had the chance to get to know her character. I connected with the good and wanted to scream at the bad. I knew her inner turmoil and wanted her to be a better person. The Flynn chapters that were peppered throughout the book were just enough to make me fall for him and really stop to think about what someone goes through when they’re bullied. He was so gentle and vulnerable. It caused me actual pain to think about the things he was dealing with. I know next-to-nothing about Asperger’s, but it seems as though the author really did her research. He was an easy character to love and empathize with. He was sweet and talented and through everything, he still looked for the good in people.
Reclaiming the Sand was difficult to read and impossible to put down. The characters made me angry. They made me sick to my stomach. They made me fall in love. They made me cry. They made me swoon. I felt ALL THE EMOTIONS. When I finished, I didn’t want to start another book because I knew there was no way it could live up to this one. The characters, the honesty of the writing, the character development, it was all absolutely perfect. What started out as upsetting ended in a beautiful and hopeful way. It’s truly unforgettable. It’s not a light read by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one that is absolutely worth it. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.