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Reviewed by Cheryl Schopen for Readers' Favorite
We all deal with pain and loss in our own way. Kelsie cuts. In Breaking Free by S.M. Koz, Kelsie is consumed with guilt and grief over losing her best friend in a car accident for which she feels responsible. She soon relies on her razor blades for comfort, which is how she ends up in the Wilderness Therapy program. Among the other troubled teens there for rehabilitation is JC, a boy who is suffering with his own guilt and grief. At first, Kelsie and JC are just friends, but they then feel a deeper connection when they realize that they are helping each other through the pain they feel. Different circumstances, including their pasts, threaten to keep them apart. Will they both finally experience some happiness or is it too late for that?
With a plot so incredibly heartbreaking yet heartwarming at the same time, this book had me hooked from the beginning. Kelsie and JC have both been through so much in their lives that it’s difficult for them to envision any type of happiness in their futures…until they meet each other. Their connection made this story for me. I felt so attached to their story, to their struggles, which made it very difficult to put the book down. What I also loved about this book is how real it was. S.M. Koz didn’t sugarcoat anything. As a reader, I felt like these were real people with real pain. Anyone who has ever cut or who has ever known someone who has cut will find Kelsie’s thoughts and behavior completely authentic. I think Kelsie’s story is inspirational and can help anyone who is struggling with cutting. It is a very real struggle that isn’t talked about often, so I have so much respect and admiration for this author for addressing it. Incredible writing, real characters, and an unpredictable plot make Breaking Free a must-read. I will be keeping my eye on S.M. Koz. I hope to see many more books by her.