Scars

Scars - Cheryl Rainfield How do I start a review on a book that tackles some very tough subjects with its heart in the right place, but doesn't execute them very well? I can't speak for Cheryl Rainfield's experiences, nor would I try to take away from her telling a story in such a mode, but "Scars" was a rough read on a number of scales, none of which I would say were done that well when considering several transitional aspects of the storyline. It's more of a mechanistic part of the story rather than the issues it chooses to tackle. Fair warning, this book is quite graphic and may potentially trigger some who have been through rape and/or mentalities associated with cutting, but I do applaud that Rainfield chooses to not mince words when it comes to the experiences of her protagonist. I actually thought the writing was fine, easy to read and go through with respect to events, but the way those events seemed to come across with gigantic plot holes and some exorbitant amounts of drama were the thing that took away from my enjoyment of the book.It frustrated me because I saw what the story wanted to do, but the execution didn't deliver for the weight it bore. However, there are some aspects of it I can look back upon and say I liked. I think it takes a tremendous amount of bravery to be able to talk about overcoming experiences with rape, struggles with cutting, and coming to terms with one's sexuality and finding happiness beyond the pain. However, I felt thrown out of the story multiple times because there were events that didn't add up well, plot transitions that were quite awkward, and threads left dangling even after the story concluded."Scars" revolves around a young woman named Kendra, who attends therapy sessions regarding her experiences with being raped as a child, and not recalling her attacker's identity. Not only that, her attacker was the one who taught/manipulated her into cutting to relieve the pain. It takes the intervention of a friend turned lover (Meghan), an art teacher, and Kendra's therapist to help Kendra through her pains and overcome not only the cutting, but also the block in her memory as to the identity of her rapist. By far, the most rewarding aspects of this book were Kendra finding ways to heal through her art, and Kendra's developing relationship with Meghan. Granted, Meghan is not a big part of the book when compared to some of the events, but the interactions between them were refreshing to watch. Also, Kendra's art teacher provides a gentle, encouraging hand in developing her talent and giving Kendra a venue to express her grief. I enjoyed those aspects very much.I felt Kendra and her mother's relationship was palpable and difficult (sometimes even boiling my blood at the exchanges), but to see some of the levels it reached and how easily it was resolved at the end left a sour taste in my mouth. Nothing in the grasp of reality is ever resolved that easily when it comes to the issues that Kendra suffered with and the measure of the relationships she had. It was tied up far too neatly, especially considering the identity of the rapist. I was not surprised by the identity of the rapist when it was revealed, but it felt like such a leap considering some of the details given in the book. We're given some devices that are supposed to lead to whom the rapist might be - considering the threats like the note, the mp3 player with the distorted voice, and the horrific "present" that Kendra receives that nearly sends her over the edge. Yet, when the reveal's made, none of those points are tied together to give the story cohesion, and it seems like the rapist's personality does a 180 from how he was portrayed in Kendra's eyes initially. I understand that Kendra was manipulated to some extent, but I found it hard to believe that she couldn't identify her rapist earlier given some plot details that didn't add up to that mentality.I wish I could've liked the story a bit better than its portrayal, but I think for how this story kept me reading, I wouldn't discount looking into this author's other and future works, just to see how she improves upon it and if the story strikes me a bit better in her respective stylistics.Overall score: 2/5Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher WestSide Books.