Cover Image: The Leading Edge of Now

The Leading Edge of Now

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Member Reviews

I received an e-arc of this book thru Net Galley.

A story of how an experience in our lives can completely ruin and change our perspective as a whole but also how to fight it without being ashamed and moving on. I found this book both heartbreaking and full of hope.
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Content warnings for sexual assault, alcoholism, drug abuse, foster care, and grief.

I don’t think I’ve ever agonised about a book review as much or for as long as I have for this book. See, I’m conflicted. I absolutely loved the style of writing and most of the pieces that made up the main character. I also highlighted so many sentences that I want to read to you so you can sigh with me about how perfectly they capture the feel of the story. I want to bathe in sentences that are simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking like these:

‘Now would be the proper time to speak. But I’m pretty sure that my mouth has been blown apart and then reattached backward and inside out, a couple of miles north of my vocal cords.’

‘I can feel all the loose ends in my life tangling around my ankles like seaweed, threatening to pull me under.’

‘Memories are like land mines that I step on everywhere I turn.’

At the same time, this book pushed so many of my buttons. I don’t expect other readers to feel the same way as I do about the niggles I had because hopefully your experiences have been different than mine, but I try to write authentic reviews and I can’t do that if I gloss over the not so shiny things in life.

The story begins with Grace moving in with her only living relative, her uncle Rusty, who has been MIA from Grace’s life since her Dad died. Grace has been in foster care for the past two years and has been dealing with her grief by herself, as well as the impacts of a sexual assault she experienced a few weeks before her father died.

The aftermath of sexual assault is painfully authentic in Grace’s character. The lingering shame, self doubt, fear, anger, grief and many other legacies of sexual assault are explored. I loved Grace’s resilience and bonded with her over her ability to speak sarcasm fluently. She thinks she knows who raped her but, because of medication she’d taken, that night is almost entirely a blank. As a result she doesn’t know who to trust and I wound up suspicious of almost everyone at some point in the book so I felt the author did a great job of creating an atmosphere of uncertainty.

While this book tackles some big issues the swoonfest diluted their impact for me. Boy wonder was a sweetheart but I would have liked him much more if he wasn’t so frustratingly perfect. As a huge romantiphobe I wouldn’t have chosen to read this book had I realised that swooning was going to be as prevalent as it was.

‘Longing, fiercer and more powerful than ever, is a hand on my back, propelling me toward him.’

Had I bypassed this book I would have avoided sentences like that one and been relieved of some annoyance and nausea, but I also would have missed out on some stellar ‘I have to highlight this!’ writing. I wish that the lovey dovey parts had been replaced by friendship and banter between Grace and boy wonder but I expect most readers will love the romantic interludes. What really annoyed me was that it seemed that no matter what Grace was facing everything eventually boiled down to whether boy wonder still liked her or not.

I felt that where Owen was mysteriously going at exactly the same time every Saturday fell within Captain Obvious’ jurisdiction and there were a few other developments that I picked up on well before they were revealed. I mention this only because I usually suck at knowing what’s going to happen in a book before it does.

So, this is probably where my review will start to sound like a therapy session. Apologies in advance.

Some of the characters seemed to waft into a scene to impart the knowledge required for the next step in the investigation before disappearing from the book entirely and the mystery of who raped Grace unfolded too easily for me. I almost stopped reading the book when I found out who the rapist was because I didn’t find it believable that it was this particular person.

I despised Rusty’s character even though I think he was supposed to be sweet, if misguided. When the care of a traumatised teenager has been entrusted to you then irresponsibility is never going to be cute or endearing. I wanted to yell at him or smack him off the page or something.

I wouldn’t have thought it possible to envy someone’s experience in foster care but apparently it is. Grace only has two foster placements in two years and the second set of foster parents sounded like they should have been nominated for Foster Carers of the Year. While it’s refreshing to hear that good foster parents do exist the foster kids I’ve known haven’t lived in any award winning homes. It would have been more realistic to me if Grace had had some dodgy placements before hitting the foster kid jackpot.

The takeaway seemed to be (to me but you may not read it like this) that if you are raped it’s your responsibility to report it to the police to protect that person’s other potential victims. This puts so much pressure on a person who is already traumatised and while I’m all for reporting if that’s what the person wants to do it is their choice. While it would be incredible if the justice system actually dispensed justice in these cases it can be harmful to someone who has experienced sexual assault to attach their healing to an outcome for the perpetrator. On RAINN’s website there are statistics that I thought of when the characters were trying to push Grace to go to the police.

“Out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free.
310 are reported to police.
57 reports lead to arrest.
11 cases get referred to prosecutors.
7 cases will lead to a felony conviction.
6 rapists will be incarcerated.”

I don’t quote this to discourage anyone from reporting sexual assault. I’ve personally reported some sexual assaults but not others so I can see the benefits and pitfalls of both options. I only want to say that if you have experienced sexual assault it’s your choice whether you report or not. Reporting is not the only path to healing.

I’d give this book 3.5 stars but am rounding up to 4. Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read this book.
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*I received a free copy of this ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I just realized that I started this book yesterday and finished it today. I think I'm actually kind of sad to be done reading it, to tell you the truth.

This book deals with sexual assault and rape, but it's not the entire book. At the risk of cheesiness, I'm going to quote a song from Moana:

They have stolen the heart from inside you,
But this does not define you.
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.

Honestly, those lyrics sum up Grace (17) and this book quite well. Her assault changed her, but it wasn't her. She was hurt and afraid, but she was brave and strong. She's not the only one in this book who experienced some type of tragedy or trauma (and hers wasn't even limited to rape). I appreciate that while what happened to her is a huge factor of the story, it didn't take over. Life continued happening, and Grace had to keep surviving, just as the other characters did. And when the truth came out, they had to deal with the fallout, the heartbreak, the devastation of what happened.

The characterization in this book was excellent--the characters felt real, as did their conversations, actions, and quirks. Andy was awkward and hilarious. Janna was . . . I don't even know how to describe her expect as herself, but that only means something if you've read the book. I adored Owen (18), and I kept begging Grace to be wrong. Rusty, Faith, Sawyer, Luke, Mr. & Mrs. McCallister . . . I could go on. Everyone felt real, and to me, that's the mark of fantastic characterization. (And that's why I'm kind of sad to have finished--I'll miss the characters.)

Note: Aftermath of rape. Some swearing.
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I liked this book. Had some powering phrases and even if i could not feel so related to the plot, I can see that this book could become very important for someone that could. 
It took me more time that I thought to finish it because in general the pace of the story is kind of slow. Even thought is not a page turner, it keeps you intrigued enough to come back everyday and try to figure out what happened in Grace's life 2 years ago and who was responsible for it. 
As I said at the beginning, I think that the subject the book deals with is very important and any young adult that comes to have a copy in its hands will at least develop some empathy. 
I also like how the writer used the short chapters to emphasise some feelings and thoughts of the main character (even when there were some that I found excessive), however that gave the book some flow.
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An enjoyable and thought provoking story on what happens if you are raped while unconscious. The MC takes us through her struggles to remember and make sense of what happened to her all whilst dealing with the loss of her father. The book is very well written and definitely engaging but the characters in the book whilst not completely one dimensional do end up propping up the MC and I wish more could have been fleshed out with some of them or at least given more air time. The same sentiment with the focus on who dunnit, I wish instead more was written about the frustration and terror from not being able to remember such a terrifying violation. This is a dark subject matter but it never felt too heavy as the author deftly injected some humour (through the MC) in a balanced way. I’ve been generous with the rating but only because there were some profound moments that felt worth it.
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A look at how sexual assault can be life consuming...and how the people who love you can support you through. Loved Owen!
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There are a few books that when you finish them, you feel them leave this gaping hole inside that aches, and they always stay with you, always come back to haunt you? The Leading Edge of Now feels like such a book.

I had expected it to be about Grace coming to terms with her father's death and living with her uncle and having to deal with being in the same town as her ex- best friend and boyfriend - maybe with some drama there, or maybe not, maybe even patching up? I don't know, I was expecting something more generic, having to deal with the things mentioned in the synopsis and that was okay too. But Grace's story just ran so much deeper than that. It's like it reached into my chest and gripped my heart, moved something inside me and I still don't know how to deal with it really. It brought me to tears so many times, even now - it's been a few minutes since I finished the book - and I'm still so emotional over it.

I loved it more than I could ever say, honestly. The narration made it feel like I was in Grace's head - I found myself thinking like her and going into the flashbacks with her and feeling so gutted alongside her. I don't want to talk too much about it for fear of spoiling it - although, I am pretty sure someone already must have - and also, because I don't know how to express it.
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I really didn't know much about The Leading Edge of Now aside from the fact that it was a contemporary novel. I was expecting it to be a quick, fun read, but it was so much more than that. Grace's story is raw, emotional, and focuses on difficult topics that I don't believe get featured very well in YA literature. I must put a trigger warning for rape/sexual abuse which is something that is heavily featured in the book, but Curtis does such a fantastic job at addressing it in a way that I believe to be very prevalent in our society today.

The story starts out with Grace reconnecting with her Uncle, Rusty, after two years of being in foster care. She also learns that her ex best friend and ex boyfriend have moved next door and it's a lot for her to take in all at once. She used to hold so many great memories in New Harbor, but all those great memories were tainted after she was raped. She doesn't remember what happened that night, and blames herself. Throughout the course of the story, we get to see Grace slowly but surely reconnect with her friends and family in a way that is more believable than most stories, as well as confront her past. The Leading Edge of Now is an emotional rollercoaster full of twists and turns. We get to witnesses Grace's journey through a very dark time in her life and see her come out the other side. Her character was so realistic, and I often found myself wanting the best for her. We get to see Grace go from a victim to a survivor, and I think thats it is a very important and inspiration story that girls of all ages should read.

Overall, I give The Leading Edge of Now four out of five stars for being an inspirational story of a survivor who goes through the darkest time of her life to come out the other side a better person. I highly reccomend this book to anyone looking for a realistic, inspirational read, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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The Leading Edge of Now was a very powerful story dealing with family issues and a personal issue Grace leads us into. From the start of the book you see the character is dealing with the loss of her father, but there is also something else she is dealing with. I don’t want to spread any details cause you must read this yourself. But I loved how this one went about the problem she held secret. When she thought Owen was the kind of person she thought he was at first I could clearly see he wasn’t. But it was really sad to see who the actual person was. It was a tangled web and to finally see what happened was just wow. I didn’t expect that.

The book in its entirety was a great read it made me laugh and cry. It was filled with so many emotions and I have to say Marci Curtis is a brilliant writer. I couldn’t put it down.  You should definitely add this to your reading list. Its one you must read. It’s something you will never forget.
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I won’t touch on much in this review and sadly I couldn’t find one thing about this book that I liked besides the cover. So here goes nothing...

The main two things that just did not work for me was the overall construction of the story and the characters. I couldn’t get myself to latch onto these characters, any of them if we are being honest. I felt like they were all very short lived in the story and not introduced to you in a great manner. They just weren’t memorable. And then every single page that I turned felt like there were just random occurrences being bunched together. There was no plot or even a purpose. The story went absolutely nowhere. But don’t worry! Every time you turn the page, a new revelation is discovered! But then another and then another...

(Spoiler-ish) and really? The main character steals wallets? REALLY?! That’s cool and all but I feel like the author could have done a better job at elaborating WHY she did this. What was the purpose or the symbolism? So random...

The execution of the entire story was so quickly paced that a lot of the storyline gets jumbled and confusing. It gets harder and harder to piece together what is actually happening through out the book because the author doesn’t slow down the events taking place. 

I appreciated the topic that the author was trying to tackle but I just don’t feel like they executed it in a way that flowed well for the reader. I didn’t appreciate how the author made the main character’s love of Owen outshine the sexual assault. Like, it was just on the back burner and I don’t like that. It just left a bad taste in my mouth.
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This book was difficult for me to rate. I wasn’t in love with the plot of the story. The pacing and the focus on certain aspects of the story just wasn’t my cup of tea. This is an own voices novel The author put in the acknowledgments that she had a similar experience in her past. 

While it wasn’t my favorite novel on this topic it was interesting because the main character goes through many different steps to finding out what really happened to her and the relationships with her family and her friends throughout the novel changed quite a bit throughout it.
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Rating: 4/5

This was a contemporary young adult novel focusing on the aspect of sexual abuse and learning to trust someone to help yourself overcome that battle. Lots of character development and self-discovery. Heartbreaking and *real* - anyone can relate to this book even if they are not a victim themselves. Adored the story line and the journey Grace needed to go on. This is such a fantastic book that teaches lots of self value and worth to those who feel they aren't deserving and also teaches you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE in the world! There is always someone to lean on - you just have to have faith and learn to trust again.
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The author did an exceptional job of writing about Grace's journey after the loss of a family member along with dealing with her feelings after being raped.  The subject of rape is sometimes written about in a non-sensitive way, but this author handled the topic beautifully.  Great read!
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Thank you, thank you, thank you to Netgalley, the author, and publisher for an advanced e-copy of this book.  Any quotes used in this review are from prior to publication and therefore subject to change.

Trigger warnings – rape, sexual abuse, forgotten trauma/possibly PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks.

The Leading Edge of Now by Marci Lyn Curtis is a YA Contemporary that tackles rape on several different levels.  The main character, Grace, has no memory of what happened two years ago on Labor Day.  All she knows is that her world crumbled afterwards.  The sudden death of her father landed Grace in a string of foster homes until her uncle finally takes her into his care.

Once Grace is back in that house, she is overcome with the sense that something horrible happened there.  She realizes that she’s been raped. But by who?

This book discusses how it feels to find out you have been raped, coming to terms with that realization, not knowing who it was who violated you in an unforgivable way, telling your friends…family…exes what happened to you and the vulnerability that comes with that.  Discovering who was behind it and confronting them…and yourself. And the healing that finally starts to break through.

Beyond the main theme of coping and overcoming being raped, family/friends/romantic relationships are discussed heavily – the repairing and maintaining of them after a trauma occurs that affects everyone

I really enjoyed the small sideline of Grace stealing random wallets.  It was a great nod at how humans tend to do things that don’t seem to make sense when they’re going through something.  By stealing wallets, her brain is “taking back” or “leveling the playing field” in my opinion.

There are only two points of criticism that I can share.  The first is that the book is told from Grace’s POV throughout the book, but it was missing this sort of internal struggle that I personally feel should’ve been involved at the beginning.  She was so sure at one point that her boyfriend raped her that she walked straight away from him, unwilling to question what she thought or hear anything he had to say.  Being that she was completely unsure of what happened that night, I felt like we should’ve gotten a little more internal dialogue and uncertainty instead of just shutting Owen out straightaway.
The second piece I can mildly criticize is that there were times when I felt like Traci Lyn Curtis’ writing style was a bit cheesy.  There were times when it bordered on cringy Tahereh Mafi (example: “That area of skin just beneath his hipbones. Oh my sweet holy lord.  Someone dial 911.”)  The plus side to this is that it was not constant and disappeared pretty early into the book and gave way to some absolutely beautiful quotes about life and healing (“I’m every girl, every woman, every female who has ever walked this planet in fear.  I’m me, prepared to face the truth.” and “I don’t need someone to yank me toward wellness.  I need someone to walk beside me as I find it on my own.” and finally, “Living, really living, is standing on the very tip of the moment – right on the leading edge of now – no matter how heartbreaking or beautiful or terrible it might be.”)

I read the acknowledgements and saw that Traci Lyn Curtis shared that while this isn’t her exact story, parts of her story are sprinkled in and I would love to thank her (and any other survivor) who bares that difficult side of their life with the world.
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I think I originally requested this title to read and review because of a few things: a) that gorgeous cover, b) I want to stretch myself out of my reading comfort zone a bit and read more contemporaries, and c) this part of its blurb: “an honest and emotional story that will resonate with the wide range of readers impacted by sexual assault.”

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Before this review really gets going, here’s some content warnings for this novel (and mentions of these topics in the review): rape (including flashbacks and discussions), death of a parent, PTSD, panic attacks, foster care experiences (non-abusive).

To be kind of personal here (sorry), I am one of those “readers impacted by sexual assault.” It’s years in my past now, but while I’m in a far better place now that I was before, being a survivor will forever mark me, at least in some way. I’m not saying that it’s my whole identity, because it’s not. But it’s a big scar in my memories, even if it’s healed. So. While every reading experience is inherently shaped by one’s own experiences and perception of the world, this book felt extra-personal to me. 

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Now that we have that established, what’s this novel about?

The Leading Edge of Now is a contemporary novel set in small-town, coastal Florida. The protagonist, Grace, is being taken into her uncle Rusty’s custody after spending two years in the foster care system. An orphan who copes through a very selective pattern of sticky-fingers pickpocketing and through ferociously practicing the violin, Grace has a wry, prickly personality coupled with loads of grief from the death of her beloved father. 

The novel’s plot is set in motion by Grace coming back into contact with Owen, her former boyfriend who she is believes betrayed her; Owen’s sister and Grace’s frozen-out ex-bestie, Janna; and other people she used to know in beachy New Harbor. Did Owen breach her trust? Can she find a way to seek justice? Did her uncle know about what happened two years ago? How can Grace find a home in a place holding so many heavy memories? Those questions and more are posed to Grace as she unravels what happened to her and finds a support system.

I want to step back a bit from the plot to mention that the setting was very well-realized. (I have a thing for settings, okay? I always have to mention the setting.) I lived in Florida a while back (okay, maybe 10 years), and while I never lived in small-town Gulf-coast Florida, the depiction of New Harbor felt real and alive. I could easily envision her uncle’s house, the local diner, and other locations.

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Now to discuss the characters.

Grace has major trust issues, and rightly so. Her experiences in the two years prior to the novel’s first scene would make a cynic out of even the most optimistic of people. My heart absolutely ached for her, and I cheered along with her in righteous (or even indignant) anger. But her sense of humor also clicked with me. It’s the kind of humor I use sometimes to cope with The Bad Shit™. Healing isn’t as simple as receiving some stock apology and “forgiving” someone, and you can’t just tell someone to move on and expect them to do so. Marci Lyn Curtis did a great job with her.

Rusty caused me some issues at first. His negligence and blithe facade were the last things that Grace needed, and I spent a good portion of the book being frustrated with him right alongside her. Still, Curtis doesn’t paint Rusty with one all-over color. She gives him depth, and while I still think that how he handled Grace’s custody was painfully bad, he shows genuine remorse and makes actual efforts at doing the right thing. His grief and insecurities ultimately made him sympathetic, even if I’d still want to give him a good long talking-to if I ever met him in real life.

Owen was interesting. I was very unsure about him during the early portions of the novel, as Grace was. I have a hard time trusting men in meatspace, so I was fully ready to straight-up launch Owen into the sun if Grace’s suspicions proved right. I won’t spoil anything here, but as with Rusty, I appreciated that Curtis gave pretty much every character dimensionality.

◊ Quick sidenote before I discuss a few other characters: while the characters are all given depth, sexual assault and rape are never, ever excused or blamed on victims in the novel. The implicit and explicit text of the book states that rape is an awful, inexcusable crime which is often committed by people known by the victim prior to the assault, not strangers. The author’s note at the end and provided support links to victims of assault make it clear that this novel’s purpose is to provide a story which shows victims that they are not alone. ◊

Janna was a good surprise. She and Grace fell out of touch through all-too-common misunderstandings (which make sense in the context and are not unrealistically overdramatized), despite being best friends for many years. She isn’t presented as a stereotypical mean rival or discredited for being attractive and outgoing, two things I hate to see in secondary female characters. She and Grace’s journey and their bond with each other were written beautifully.

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Before I end this review, I want to discuss the themes and messages of the novel a bit.

I said earlier that the novel does not excuse rapists or assaulters. It absolutely does not, and I love it for that. The last thing I need when reading a book that mentions a subject so heavy and so incredibly personal to me is to see the author explain away why “the perpetrator had their reasons” or some similar bullshit. I want stories that embrace survivors with open arms, acknowledging that what was done to them was not okay, not even remotely. This novel provides one of those stories.

It also has this beautiful message of hope that avoids faux-positivity crud that makes my skin crawl. I don’t need to be told an asinine thing like “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” - something that was actually said to me, y’all, I shit you not - like...what happened to me was without my consent. If I feel bad feelings about it, I’m not going to pretend like that’s my fault. No victim should. This novel takes that idea of positivity and puts it right in the garbage where it belongs. It instead proffers the idea that for real healing to occur, not only is acknowledgment of trauma important, but a support system and the knowledge that what happened to you was real and not your fault is as well. For bridges to be mended between people, real efforts at and actions of reconciliation - not just words of apology - are vital.

So, would I recommend The Leading Edge of Now? Yes, wholeheartedly, if you are in a headspace where you can read about the topics it addresses. I thought the ending was a little too neat, and there was a line about librarians/libraries that made me both laugh and roll my eyes (y’all, public libraries are often not silent or stodgy places anymore), I both sped through this and “enjoyed” it. (“Enjoyed” because it was a very emotional read, but it was ultimately cathartic for me.) I hope this novel gets some love.
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The thing I loved the most is that it's been so easy to identify myself with Grace, even if I haven't gone through what she has experienced. I felt her pain, her guilt, all her emotions like they were mine, and the message the author wanted to pass down is so important that everyone should read this novel. 
So thank you so much Marci for having the courage and the strength to write it for us <3
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Heart wrenching
Coming of age story
A must read of the YA contemporary genre for anyone who loves this genre of course 

I did have a hard time connecting with Grace at first, but little by little we found each other and it was lovely. 

One of the best things about the books is definitely the relationships Grace has throughout   the story.
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This story was heart breaking and beautiful, tragic and uplifting and a rollercoaster of emotions. The story sounds like it’s going to be a downer right from the start. Grace has had a horrible couple of years and her attitude has hardened. Her trust in others diminished to the point where she feels completely alone. Despite her circumstances though Grace manages to find humor in her situations and that is conveyed with a wry twist through the writing. I found myself admiring Grace for her strength and determination and later for her willingness to take a chance and a leap of faith. The book is extremely well written and plotted. The relationships between the characters well thought out and developed. I loved the supporting characters and found that they all added a significant amount to the story. The only reason my rating isn’t 5 stars (I give it 4) is because it was a bit of an emotionally exhausting book. The story deals with a lot of tough issues and while it does it very well, I felt like there was maybe a bit too much going on. I would still recommend that anyone who reads YA pick this book up immediately!

*Trigger Warning – One of the issues in this book is rape.
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The Leading Edge of Now made my skin crawl. You know that feeling you get when you think you're being watched? That's pretty much what it feels like to read this book. The little hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, and I barely breathed while I waited for the other shoe to drop. It was hard watching Grace revisit the ghosts of her past, and I desperately wished she hadn't been alone for so many years. She really needed her friends, but she'd already isolated everyone by that point. 

At the beginning, I had a hard time connecting with Grace as a character. She would say or think things that were meant to be funny or sarcastic, but they came across feeling forced and unnatural. However, there were times the comments were so unexpected they surprised a laugh out of me. "But in New Harbor, where it’s so quiet, a squirrel scurrying up a tree sounds like an assassin wading through the sawgrass with a hatchet." She grew on me towards the end, and I learned to appreciate her personality.

I wish some of the people in Grace's life had been more proactive. After her dad died, she didn't really have anyone in her corner. There was no support system, and she was left to deal with her grief on her own. Sexual assault, the death of her father -- she was 15-years old. When she starts searching for the bastard that assaulted her, we find out that quite a few people knew something was wrong or off with the situation. I wish one of them had been brave enough to come forward, or at least expressed concern on her behalf.

It also didn't seem fair to me that everyone judged Grace for cutting ties with them, but they made no effort of their own to reach out to her. Janna and Owen's parents were like a second mom and dad for Grace, but they didn't think to check on her when she'd been absent for two years? She basically lived in their house every summer and holiday since she was four, but then years go by without a word. A few things are explained later on, but still... someone should have made contact.

Rusty (her uncle) is spontaneous and easygoing. He's a child masquerading as an adult most of the time, but he loves Grace. He and her father were really close, and his death affected him as much as it did his niece. Rusty felt responsible in a way, so he kept his distance from Grace when she needed him the most. It was heartbreaking to see on both sides, because they were both hurting, and I'm glad they were finally able to grieve together.

Owen is a beautiful, broken soul. He always has the best intentions, but life keeps taking him out at the knees. First, there was the accident that has taken him years to cope with, and then he was blamed for something he would never even dream of doing. He is a genuinely good person, and I hated to see him hurting for the bulk of the book. 

The Leading Edge of Now was a quick read that made me feel violated on Grace's behalf. It's sickening how often people are taken advantage of, and I think the author does a good job of expressing Grace's inner turmoil and how it effected her day-to-day life. A guy on the bus kept glancing at her breasts and then touched her without her permission -- it messed with her head. No one should ever have to feel that way. Also, people have the right to say no, and that response should be respected.

NetGalley had some additional information I wanted to share: Marci Lyn Curtis, the critically acclaimed author of The One Thing, has crafted an honest and emotional story that will resonate with the wide range of readers impacted by sexual assault. Sexual assault does not define this story, however, just as it does not define Grace. Wry humor and true love emerge as Grace, like many in the #MeToo era, seeks to find her truth, face her truth, and speak her truth.

Originally posted at Do You Dog-ear? on August 30, 2018.
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3 stars

After reading all the stellar reviews of this book, I was kind of sad that I didn’t love it as much as everyone else did.

I thought the message was pretty great–about grief and moving on and surviving no matter what life throws at you. And Grace was a really strong character and seeing how she moved on and dealt with this was really heartwarming (also heartbreaking at how many terrible things life has thrown at her).

But I felt like some of the execution was a little off to me. Like, I liked how they went and tried to track down her rapist, but I also feel like it was a little far-fetched that they could actually find him and managed to track everything down.

Grace didn’t even know anything about that night, and only through a some-what rushed series of scenes where they went from one person to the next asking them about that night were they able to figure out who the rapist was.

It just felt a little far-fetched and underdeveloped, because they started off with literally nothing and the wrong person, and somehow wheedled the proper information out of people without any red herrings or intentional deception.

It was like the book was a coming-of-age/acceptance novel, with a half-developed mystery sub plot of discovering who Grace’s rapist was. I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if the mystery was taken out or just developed more, because right now it felt like it was just in the awkward middle area.

But, despite this, I still enjoyed the character relationships.

I think Grace’s familial relationships with Rusty and Eleanor and even Rusty’s new girlfriend-turned-wife, Faith, were very well done and I loved seeing how they moved on from their grief over Grace’s dad’s death.

I also really liked how Grace and Janna mended their friendship because friendship themes are so important and I just totally adore what it added to the novel.

But, I wasn’t too into the relationship between Grace and Owen. I know so many people talked about how they loved it, but I was just…not into it.

It’s not like Grace and Owen’s relationship was problematic, but I just really felt like it wasn’t necessary. I think Grace’s acceptance story plus an expanded mystery would have really filled the gaps and let the book be more impactful.

Their romance was cute, but it just seemed sort of frivolous to me, and I also had a hard time letting go of the possibility that Owen was lying. Because the way Curtis dispels the notion is by telling us how the main character believed him and how he looked honest.

But honestly? I didn’t believe him. Maybe I’m suspicious and obviously the reader doesn’t know Owen that well, but giving him that much benefit of the doubt was not something I do.

Overall, this book has a lot of great messages in it, but it just ended up being okay and not really for me. I would recommend if it sounds interesting and if you’d like to read a novel on the effects of rape.
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