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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Tempered is the first book in the Run Away Home series by Catherine Manett, a thoughtful, character-driven tale with unforgettable characters. The story follows two intriguing characters, Peter and Hayley, who grew up together in the foster care system. Now, as young adults, they dream of a life of freedom and to live on their own terms. But everything changes when Peter assumes the role of a father to Danny after learning that their foster mother is terminally ill. The life he has dreamed about with Hayley seems unattainable as Peter struggles as the sole breadwinner. Hayley's addiction makes things complicated for them. With Peter unable to give Hayley his full attention, Hayley begins to seek the attention of her drug-dealing boyfriend, Tristian. Will Peter succeed in getting Hayley out of her addiction and the influence of Tristian, or will his past catch up with him instead as he begins to have disturbing images of his past?
Catherine Manett's novel reads wonderfully, especially for fans of literary fiction looking for appealing characters. It is filled with engaging dialogues, and the drama builds from page to page. Themes of family, addiction, and parenting are intelligently written within the context of the foster system. The author does a wonderful job of exploring the characters' inner worlds, examining what it feels like to grow up without a natural family. I loved that the characters are genuinely flawed and believable. The narrative voice is strong, and the story is told in a captivating first-person voice that reflects different characters' perspectives. This powerful entry into the series explores what family and freedom truly imply. The beautiful writing and the realistic characters will resonate strongly with readers. It is as nuanced as it is captivating.