Trail of Crumbs
By Lisa J. Lawrence
ARC paperback, 247 pages
2019, Orca Book Publishers
I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.
Greta’s been keeping her head down at school until senior year when she meets Rachel, and through her, Dylan. Greta finds herself attending parties with her new friends – only after one such party, she wakes up in bed with Dylan, naked. Confused and ashamed, she avoids her old friends and hides the truth from herself and her twin brother, Ash. Meanwhile, at home, the twins are bullied by their stepmother and their father seems powerless to stand up for them. When the twins wake up to find their parents gone, they find themselves relying on the unexpected kindness of strangers.
For some reason, I thought this was a middle-grade read and while it’s not explicit, it is more suited for teen readers. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I absolutely loved another YA book!
When I put my name in to try for a copy of this book, all I knew was that it was a contemporary Hansel and Gretel retelling and I was under the impression it was middle-grade with some magical realism. Well, I was way off, but it worked in my favor! This is an excellent YA about what it means to stand up for yourself, support your loved ones and the importance of understanding that “an absence of no isn’t a yes.”
As I mentioned before, I don’t consider this novel to be graphic, but it does deal with underage drinking and sexual consent (or really, non-consent in this case) so keep that in mind if you’re wondering what age is appropriate for the reader.
Knowing next to nothing about this book going in, I got to watch a painful, relevant and beautiful story unfold. Brother and sister, orphaned out of the blue, are nothing but supportive of each other. Yes, they have their fights, but I found it refreshing and heartwarming that Ash and Greta stick together through thick and thin. Ash is unaware of what’s happened to Greta for most of the story, but he knows his sister needs his love and support, so he’s willing to give it.
The two are a great duo and maybe it’s because I read YA fantasy with catty, jealous heroines and bitchy friend groups, but Ash and Greta’s relationship was a wonderful surprise. I think it’s important to have siblings who are friends with each other in books for younger readers. Greta’s situation is one that her brother so easily could have judged her and shamed her for, like Greta’s “friends” did – I appreciate that Lawrence didn’t go there.
I especially loved this quote:
“…you didn’t consent to sleeping with him the first time. Also, what are you, a blow-up doll? You could’ve said yes a hundred times and still had a right to say no the hundred and first.”
Ash has his own troubles with school and Greta does what she can to stick by him, motivate him and help him plan for the future, all while they struggle to fend for themselves and deal with being abandoned. There’s a found family aspect to this story and it’s tied in with the struggles of dealing with abandonment and forgiving those who have done you wrong.
It’s not often I say this, but this is a very important book. It’s full of great characters, relevant experiences and messages that younger (and probably some older) readers need to hear. I think this very easily could have been a darker tale, but I appreciate that Lawrence gave a light at the end of the tunnel while still tackling difficult topics. And for those of you who aren’t a big fan of fairytale retellings, no need to worry, this one is light on the tale.
I want to gush about this book, but I’m at a loss for words because it was so good and I feel I can’t do it justice! This is a book I really hope gets some buzz!
I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a read with:
+ A found family and a good sibling relationship
+ Themes of consent, underage drinking and abandonment
+ Characters with a lot of heart