Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Review: Sacred by Elana K. Arnold

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Elana K. Arnold
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Publication date: November 13th 2012
by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett’s pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: “Stop.”

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can’t or won’t explain, he’s drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can’t deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett’s body slowly awakens at Will’s touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he’s been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.

-A copy was provided by Random House for review-

A contemporary with a hint of paranormal, Sacred is a story with a lot of grief and pain, but also hope and acceptance.

Having lost her brother suddenly, Scarlett is left with a broken family and an emptiness nothing can even begin to fill. Grief over her brother’s death begins as the main topic of this novel. We get a very realistic portrayal of a family broken by pain, by a missing entity. I thought this was very heartbreaking. You can see that Scarlett really wants, needs, her family back. She yearns for what she sees her friends have as a home life when she visits, a house that is not dark and desolate. Having no one else to turn to, Scarlett uses horse riding, along with self punishment as a way to cope. This too was also very emotional and made me feel incredibly sad for her situation. Even she knows she has a problem, she wants to get better and move on, but the unending grief is making this incredibly hard.

Then she meets a boy–Will. At first the love interest annoyed me. He was the typical stalker guy who’s always there when he’s not wanted, and seemed a little too pushy. After a while though we come to understand the reason behind his actions. I can’t say I ever grew to like him exactly, but I stopped being hateful towards him at least. He also harbours a secret that starts out intriguing but fizzles out into a less interesting (at least to me) direction than I was expecting–more on this in a bit. Their relationship starts out a little rocky, but then he becomes sort of her rock. He’s a real gentlemanly type of guy that I found perfect for just this purpose. However, the romance they developed was a bit lacking. I wouldn’t say it’s insta-lovey, or even unrealistic, I just didn’t see any sparks between them, really. In turn, the passion and chemistry was missing from the story, leaving the romance a little plain.

The plot mostly consists of Scarlett moving on from her brother’s death. There is also a paranormal/spiritual element added to it, and it’s explained with religious faith and belief. So yes there’s a religious aspect to the novel, especially deeper during the last part, to which I didn’t particularly care for. I think those who enjoy religious lore–Kabalah, Tzaddikim, gifts and abilities brought on by Jewish legends, etc (Will’s father is a Rabbi, too, hence where it all comes from)–would find a lot of this fascinating, but it just rolled off of me. Religion aside, the rest of the story is an emotion filled tale of sorrow and loss that I found really quite potent. You could say there’s two sides of this story, one religious, and the other raw contemporary. I enjoyed the latter much more.

A solid story of the loss of a loved one, Elana took Sacred, the seemingly usual contemporary, into a path that combines religion and spiritualism to create an affectingly unique YA novel. If religious tones are not something you shy away from in books I can see you becoming a fan of this one.

3 Hot Espressos

About the Author

Elana K. Arnold completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse–a gorgeous mare named Rainbow–and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of the East/West Literary Agency. Sacred is her debut novel.

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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20 Responses to “Review: Sacred by Elana K. Arnold”

  1. Bailey

    This sounds like a really interesting book and that cover is so intriguing! I’m curious about Will and why he acted the way he did. Definitely going to have to pick up a copy of this book! Awesome review!! 🙂

  2. Nick

    This sounds like an interesting read except for the annoying love interest. Stalkerish love interests annoy me so much. It’s too bad you didn’t particular enjoy the religious aspects.
    Lovely review, Giselle!

  3. Amy

    This sounds interesting, but I don’t think it’s something I would pick up. Ohh, stalker boys!! Why? At least you find out why he is pushy and stalkerish though. The cover is gorgeous. Great review babe!!

  4. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I really love the cover for this one. A lot of what you described here makes it sound like a book that I would really like. All the sorrow and sad stuff, but the religion you mentioned at the end is a huge turn off for me. I don’t think I’ll be reading this one since it was so middle of the road for you but I am really happy to see that you found quite a few redeeming qualities in it and enjoyed it after all. Fabulous review!

  5. kimbacaffeinate

    I am not at all sure about this, it sounds like it might help someone who is religious deal with loss. The cover is really neat but it all sounds depressing. Lovely review:)

  6. Michelle

    I didn’t know there was going to be a religious aspect to this book!! That usually isn’t my thing, but I do love the cover of the book and it does sound interesting… but maybe too depressing. And I don’t know about “awakened with his touch” …that’s a little ick!

  7. Christina

    Honestly, I keep looking at this one, but I really don’t think I can. The title scares me enough, but now I know for sure that it’s got a big religious component. I don’t think I could handle this one. NOT FOR ME. Now if it were a book titled Sacrilegious, that would be a different story.

  8. Alexa Y.

    This sounds pretty interesting! I’m not too sure how I’m going to feel about the religion thing, but I’m pretty intrigued by the idea of the journey that Scarlett goes through in grieving for her brother.

  9. Renae M.

    I heard about this book while I was looking at her upcoming release, Burned, but this one looks singe resting as well. The creepy stalker love interest is a bit off-putting, for sure, but I am intrigued by the religious aspect a bit.

  10. Megan R

    Great review. Religious aspects of books kind of weird me out, since I’m not very religious. It still sounds like an interesting read (and you mentioned horses!).

  11. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Yeah, sometimes that romance just doesn’t work — too placid, too vanilla, not enough passion, whatever. I don’t mind religion in my books, as well as it’s well done and not too heavy-handed.

  12. Henrietta @ Leisure Reads

    Scarlett sounds like a great character. The spiritual/paranormal element seems interesting but like you, I think I’ll enjoy the contemporary aspect more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Giselle!