The tables are turned with a vengeance in this tour de force love story. Nearly a year has gone by and now it’s Dorothy who is fragmented and lost, while Joey keeps the promise he had made her to better himself—even though she’s gone. Joey talks about what is happening in the present while Dorothy describes what happened before— in the moments and hours after the Glock dropped. This time the stakes are even higher, as Joey forces himself to move forward while Dorothy is frozen in place. But when he learns of a devastating decision, Joey races to find her before it is too late. Truth, consequence, repercussion and modern medicine collide as pieces converge in this psychological, thrilling story, which begs the question: Can love really conquer all?
I’m not exactly sure how to even begin talking about this book. You see, MELT (back when I read it) was one of the most heartbreaking, most hopeful stories I’d read up until then. And that was two years ago. I’ve read so much more since then but after reading Signs Of Life, I’ve realised that Joey and Dorothy will probably always hold a special place in my heart.
Signs of Life picks up in the same same first person dual POV we saw in MELT. Dorothy’s voice is now in verse, heartbreaking and hurtful, picking up exactly where we dropped off in MELT. Joey’s voice—while still obviously healing—narrates the present, an ominous voice in the hollow life he now lives. The way he speaks, the things he says, leads the reader to believe that something had happened—something big—and it’s clear that Joey is still reeling from it. Of course, Dorothy’s POV is leading up to the big event and so there’s not too much time that the reader is kept in the dark.
Reading this book was painful. Abuse and neglect and violence is reality; it happens and people live entire lives surrounded by it, but being confronted by it—if only by a book—was brutal. Joey underwent a lot to get to the place he was in Signs Of Life but now that I’ve read the book entirely, I realise that he has a lot more to go through. The book just constantly raised the question of how somethings were too broken to be mended, and for me that was the most challenging part. I constantly oscillated between wanting Dorothy and Joey to be together and wanting them to stay far far away from each other for their own collective sakes. It was tiring. By the end of the book I was very, very emotionally exhausted, and I can hardly ever say that for a book. Kudos to the writing that Selene Castrovilla has brought into this book because I dare you, reader, to escape this book without a tear-streaked face. I dare you.
All this being said, I’m a bit disappointed. After having read a masterpiece like MELT I was expecting more everything from Signs of Life. Unfortunately, I felt like the first part of the book dragged, and the end was too rushed. I didn’t get the time to deal with exactly what was happening to and with the characters, and that made me a bit frustrated. If you are a type of reader that can deal with a slow beginning that spans almost 50% and can stick with characters until the end, then you’re obviously better than me. But MELT and Signs of Life are beautiful books, without any doubt, I can definitely recommend this series to you regardless of your preferences in reading.
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Selene Castrovilla is the award-winning author of multiple narrative nonfiction picture books and young adult novels. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons and too many cats. Visit her website: www.SeleneCastrovilla.com.
I WAS PROVIDED A FREE EARC OF THIS BOOK BY Last syllable books THROUGH Netgalley IN EXCHANGE OF AN HONEST REVIEW. THIS DID NOT IN ANY WAY, HOWEVER, INFLUENCE THE CONTENT OF THIS REVIEW.
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