Into the Hollow

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

Thank you so much to Owl Hollow Press and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This novel is set in the town of Poplar Beach, West Virginia where we meet 17-year-old Freedom who is living in a shack without water or electricity with her younger brother and her father. Neither of the children attend school and are not allowed to have any friends. Their father is always scheming ways to make money even if it means ripping people off while Freedom works at a grocery store. Enter Cole, another teenager who also has a troublesome home life. What starts as helping Freedom out after her dad is injured turns into so much more.

I went into this book expecting YA romance which I feel I have read a million times before. I was so not ready for what this book was actually about. It's not just a story about love, it's a story about family and survival and teenagers with crappy lives trying to make it better and be the adults.

Lynn Vroman has an amazing writing style that will keep you interested and wanting to know what happens next. The way she details her characters and the storyline is amazing and she has a true talent for this. I loved the characters Freedom and Cole and how they had such a slow building romance while trying to help each other out. This was such a great book!
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Wow, I haven't devoured a book like this in months!

I'm not quite sure what exactly I was expecting when I picked this book up, but it certainly wasn't the touching, profound read it turned out to be:
Wonderfully developed, damaged protagonists alongside a slew of amazing supporting characters, all of them struggling to survive and ultimately escape their bleak lives in a deprived coal town in the mountains of West Virginia. Love, friendship, family and loyalty are probably the prevailing themes in this book, and Vroman handled it so well without drifting off into clichés or sobstuff.
While I loved both Free and Cole and their sweet budding romance, it was Free's precious relationship with her little brother that really got to me and moved me most, and how she was willing to sacrifice everything for him. I'm not too proud to admit that it made me shed quite a few tears.
The atmosphere is a rather sad one thoughout the book, bordering on but never quite transgressing into depressing territory, but somehow, it never made me feel down. I just knew everything would work out in the end, Free and Cole being too smart and mature to allow anything else.

So why not 5 stars, you ask, if I adored this book so much?
There was a stretch somewhere in the middle that felt incredibly drawn out, as if the author didn't really know where to take the story from there. The pacing felt off, the characters' thoughts became redundant and I just wanted it to go back to the way it had been before. Thankfully, she managed to recover and once it was back on track, I enjoyed every remaining word of it. So much so that I wished there had been some sort of epilogue.

All in all, though, this was a fantastic read. Emotional, sweet and empowering. What more could you want?

Trigger warning:
Despite the protagonists being teens, due to some pretty graphic mature content such as domestic abuse, drug addiction and violence, I'm still not sure whether this really should be labelled as Young Adult.
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Something weird happened with my laptop and a lot of my downloads disappeared, including this and other Netgalley ARCs I had not yet gotten around to, but are now archived and not available to re-download... I am sadness
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I really enjoyed this contemporary fiction novel I received via Netgalley. The story is set in The Hollow, in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. It's the story of a girl named Freedom, and her fight to find herself, save her family and get out of the hills. Good story telling and fun, believable characters.
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***Actual Rating: 4/5 Dreams-Unliving Stars*** 

Into the Hollow featured two teenagers, Free and Cole, living in the Appalachia Mountains Area, trying to figure out what was going on with their lives. When Free’s father went too far by dealing with the devil, her younger brother and her life was in serious jeopardy. They were hunted and threatened by the most notorious gangsters/drug dealers in the area so escaping their nightmare was hardly an option. 

Mercifully, with the help of Cole, a cute neighbor who ended up going to the same school as Free, she regained her composure and found back the confidence and motivation she needed to keep moving forward. Little did Free know Cole may be fighting against his personal demons all this time he was doing his best giving her a hand. 

As an aspiring journalist, Cole had a habit of putting down headlines in his notepad wherever he went. I loved his random thoughts and inner feelings for Free because he was such a sweet cinnamon roll with a kind heart and a soft spot for this math whizz girl (even though he doesn’t like math that much, ha!).

Despite the adversity both Free and Cole had to encounter, there was a pinch of humor in their daily banters that I absolutely adored. However awkward and inexperienced they were when it comes to love and life, they never backed away from stumbling through darkness just to find the silver lining. 

In the beginning of the story, I was totally obsessed with the background setting and character development. I highly appreciated how mature and thoughtful Free and Cole were because in my opinion, that was the highlight of this book. To my slight disappointment, I got lost somewhere in the middle of the story since Cole had way too many questions about Free that were left completely unanswered, untouched. I found myself searching for answers but to no avail.

Thankfully, the story picked up its pace as the ending approached. As relieved as I was to see Free and Cole figure a tiny part of their messed-up lives out, which resulted in them staying clear of the rabbit hole, I would definitely appreciate more if there could be more detailed disclosures on the whereabouts of those villains. I mean, I was pretty curious about what happened to them since they were sort of a crucial part of the story. Don’t get me wrong, the story itself was indeed an awesome-sauce with its well-developed characters and realistically heartfelt plot; it’s just that there were too many unsolved problems to thoroughly enjoy it.

All in all, Into the Hollow is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED book from me because I think everyone should meet Free and Cole and take a closer look at how they sought the light through darkness, baby step by baby step. It’s an uplifting story since the characters were flawed, stuck with their messed-up families, but somehow fought their way back to normalcy successfully. My favorite feature of the story? It’s undoubtedly its bittersweet touch of reality and helplessness I believe some people in real life are still struggling with, whatever dark corners in the world they are in. Enough said, please go give this book a try and let me know what you think!
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This book was just absolutely gorgeous. Heartbreaking and sweet, it follows 17 year old Freedom and 18 year old Cole through their hard times and their sweet budding romance. 
Incredibly poignant. I am still crying. I can not recommend this one enough. Thanks netgalley for giving me a chance to read Into the Hollow.
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Into the Hollow addresses the topic of poverty. Told with warmth and heart, it's a feel good and feel sad story all at once. We see how to overcome adversity in ways other than the typical. It teaches valuable lessons with loveable characters. I enjoyed this book.
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Into the Hollow is more than a YA contemporary , it’s also a coming of age story which portraits the value of hard work, the importance of family and the difference between real and fake dreams. In this story we follow the perspectives of our two main characters : Freedom, Cole and the cruel reality of their lives. Not only that, but how their environment also affects the decisions they make about their future. 

This story is heartbreaking but also a warm fuzzy one (trust me ) . It’s deep and filled with emotion: anger, sadness and joy are some of the many feelings you will get while reading this book. It’s extremely fast paced . Lynn did a wonderful job with the writing , making you feel like you’re part of the story . 

I decided to give this book 4.5 /5 stars because I had an issue with a part of the story (which I will not talk about because it will be a spoiler) but that didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book. Highly recommend it .
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Into the Hollow is a beautifully written book. The main characters are really well developed and their storylines are written with such depth that you feel the hopelessness that they embody.
That being said, I found the middle section a little slow going. I think Cole’s character lost his way a little bit and was overshadowed by how strong Free is.
The plot is good but you could see what was going to happen quite early on in the resolution.
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Great job Lynn Vroman! Wow! This was my favorite book of 2018 for real! Amazing book, read it! Don't think about it, buy the book and read it, you won't regret it I promise!
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I can’t seem to write this review. I’ve tried a couple of times now and I find myself trying to retell the story and all the great, awesome parts of this book instead of telling you what I love about it. You have to read this book for yourself. It was beautiful.

Since I can’t stop myself from telling you the story, instead I am going to just write up some bullet points about what I loved about this book and some things this book made me think about.

1.	This isn’t a book you just read. This is a book you experience. At least it was that way for me. This book hit on some really tough topics – child abuse, drug abuse, extreme poverty, neglect, teen pregnancy, prejudice. But it was also a story about family, hope, discovery, and love. In the end, it really emphasized that sometimes the best action is to let go, rather than continue on a dead end and ultimately destructive path.

2.	Everyone in the world should be loved the way Freedom and Little love each other. There was raw emotion there, definitely borne of hard life experiences, but a love deeper between siblings than I’ve ever experienced before in a book. It was pure, unconditional, and beautiful.

3.	Everyone in the world should be respected and loved the way Cole respects and loves Freedom. Good guys do exist.

4.	Poverty does not have to define you. You define you. Sometimes your decisions (good and bad) can define you (at least temporarily), and the right decisions are super hard to make! But you are never locked in – while it can be difficult, you can change your life if you want to!

5.	Not all foster families are bad.

6.	Guidance counselors can ROCK!

7.	Girls can be unbelievably smart!  I love that Freedom was a math prodigy and that it was so prominent in the book.

8.	Saying goodbye can be the hardest thing in the world. There is a scene between Freedom and Little that made me ugly cry. It was painful, raw, heart wrenching and destroyed me for a bit. I actually had to put the book down for a while to recover. 

9.	SO MANY EMOTIONS!  This book was a rollercoaster spanning from hate, dread, and despair to outright joy, hope and love. Quite a ride.

10.	Sometimes survival means taking care of yourself first. Love yourself.

11.	I loved that this is a YA book that did not go the catty high school girls route. Refreshing!

12.	You are allowed to be happy! 

13.	Did I mention MATH!?!!  

14.	Family is everything. And sometimes the ones that are your best family aren’t even related to you.

15.	You are stronger than you think, but you can ask for help when you need it. And when you need to, scream at the top of your lungs from a cliff!

There is so much in this book to love. I want to tell you about all of my favorite parts and provide quotes and describe the scenes, but I would be rewriting the book for you if I included it all. I seriously want to buy this book for everyone I know and hold them hostage until they read it and experience what I just experienced reading it!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher Owl Hollow Press for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I found this book a really beautiful story.  It captures an often not talked about side of poverty with grace.  I was able to feel for the characters and really felt as though they were real people.  It was also really refreshing to have a female character be a math prodigy.  I am frequently looking for books that bring that gender equality to my students and classroom.
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The story started suspenseful with secrecy and twists and slowly became more of a romance. It read to me a bit like a New Adult novel, without the sexual content.
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I really loved this book. It made me feel all sorts of emotions and Free is a girl that is narrated so well. All the characters felt wonderfully real but really did make me sad at the different circumstances they all faced. I hope there is a sequel (although there's room for interpretation). Cole and Freedom are wonderful, feeling as if they were right next to me. Thank you for this.
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This is a gem. 

There's so much to love about this novel. The writing is so smooth and fluid; the dialogue is realistic and the story glides along the page. Lynn Vroman has an amazing style and a great talent. I haven't read any of her other work but will absolutely make a point to do so soon. Honestly, there's such a lovely fluidity to her work that I am straight up jealous.

The story is heartbreaking and hopeful at equal turns. The characters are rich and rounded. It's not often we see a group of young adults band together through thick and thin. Girls welcome new competition without the cattiness that comes so easily to storylines. Adults help and guide but don't make promises they can't keep. Family betrays one another. Family finds a way to come back together. 

This was a peek into the lives of the tough people that poverty keeps down. There's no hiding the ugly in this story and there is plenty to see. But there are shining moments of love and hope. The people we meet in this story will resonate for a long time. Thank you to NetGalley and Owl Hollow Press for providing me with a review copy.
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Freedom, Cole, and Little are characters that will stay with you long after you close this book. Their story is one of strength, coping, and love and it is beautifully told. The writing is flawless and the characters well developed. It is told in two POVs, Cole’s and Free’s and both of these add to the beauty of the story. The author’s voice is amazing and the prose is beautifully done. I found myself falling into this world alongside Free and living every day with her. The fears, the struggle, and the falling in love. All the emotions were felt deeply.  A beautiful story about family, hope, and love. A definite 5 star read.

I never hesitate to read a book by Owl Hollow Press and have always found the books they publish to be exceptional and the authors they publish are superb storytellers. This is another big hit from this publisher and I look forward to reading more for Lynn Vroman.
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Into the Hollow really surprised me, in a good way. I was expecting a novel about a girl finding love despite difficult life circumstances, but what I got was much more. This is a novel about family, hope, poverty, grief, and yes, love. It was unique, heart-wrenching, and pulled me in from the start. I loved Free, Cole, Little, and the supporting characters who helped them on their way and added context to this world.

Yays: 

1) Slow-building romance

As I'm sure we can all attest to, insta-love is a huge trope in YA novels, and Cole's immediate obsession with Free made me think that their romance might progress too quickly to be believable. However, Free is understandably skittish and her standoffishness successfully prevents that from happening. I loved seeing the romance build from friendship and trust to something more. Cole is so sweet and respectful and tries his hardest not to push Free despite her secrets and mistrust.

2) Non-catty girls

Initially, it seems as though one of Cole's female friends is going to be a sort of arch-nemesis for Free, as she makes her jealously pretty clear in the beginning. However, I was pleased with female friendships Free was able to cultivate (albeit through Cole) and Into the Hollow didn't really play on high school drama much at all - impressive since Free is an easy target with her ripped and out of fashion clothing, etc.

3) Math (ugh but also yay!)

Free is basically a math prodigy, able to solve complex equations in her head and solving the math teacher's "unsolvable" riddle her first week in school. I love seeing girls represented in STEM and it was interesting to see Free use math as a coping mechanism. A sadder side of her gift is that her father doesn't seem to recognize it for what it is, even though her little brother is amazed by Free's mathematical prowess. 

4) Unique chapter openers

I'm a sucker for little "extras" in chapter openers - I love extra illustrations, quotes, anything to give a hint of what might happen in a unique way. The story is told in alternating perspectives - Free's and Cole's. Free's sections begin with a math equation and example - for example, a + b = c (in theory, anyway) opens up the first chapter, followed by more complicated equations captioned "momentum," etc. You can probably tell by this explanation that I'm not very good at math, but I loved this little extra insight into Free's mind. Cole's dream is to be a journalist, so his entries open up with a news article style captions like "Mystery Girl Moves in Next Door".

5)) Unexpected plot

I had an idea of what I thought the climax of the novel might be early on, but when this event happened in the first third of the book, I knew it would be different than expected. It was so much better, and gave more time for the characters to develop as well as let us see them in different circumstances. 

6) A Dumbledore or Gandalf if you will

I love characters who are a sort of guiding force or Dumbledore, Gandalf, Yoda (pick your sci-fi/fantasy poison) if you will. The guidance counselor at Free's school gently pushes her to dream and expect more from her future without being annoying about it.

7) Appalachia

I feel like Appalachia is a region that has gotten a lot of attention in nonfiction and the news lately (i.e. Hillbilly Elegy and responses to it), so it's exciting to see the region represented in YA. The hopelessness and poverty that pervades the area in the novel is disheartening, but seems accurate. Cole's family is torn apart by opiate addiction and the incarceration of his father and his abusive brother, Free and her family is on the run and squatting at an abandoned house, and other characters grapple with issues related to poverty. However, the resilience and heart of other characters shine through and show another side of the community. Other scenes highlight the natural beauty of the area.

8) Strong supporting characters

I loved the development of even the smaller supporting characters. Lynn Vroman tricked me into thinking someone was a one-dimensional person, then show me another side of them later on in the novel. 

9) Hero/heroine

When Cole first helps to "save" Free, I thought that dynamic would stick throughout the book. However, Free gets the chance to save Cole too, and their relationship becomes more built on mutual trust and understanding than a white knight/damsel in distress situation.

10) We are family

I LOVED Free's relationship with her little brother, Little. It was the both the most heartwarming and heartbreaking part of the novel, and their little phrase "You're my favorite" ("I love you" in Little speak) made my heart grow three sizes each time it appeared. I also loved Free's memories of her mother, and her love of the music her mother loved. Free's relationship with her father is very complicated - they're affectionate and obviously love one another, but her father doesn't seem to be able to put what's best for his children first, sadly.

Cole also has a complicated relationship with his family. His mother and sister have struggled with opiate addiction, with his mother still on the drugs. His brother Richie is in prison at the beginning of the novel, along with this father, and Cole strives every day to make enough money to get out of the "holler" and away from his family. Cole's sister and her daughter, Cole's niece, provide some sweet spots in all the trauma, but ultimately add to the sadness of the situation since they are stuck as well. 

11) Road trip
'Nough said

12) Indie author

I'm ashamed to say that I typically avoid books from small or indie publishers and authors. This books shows me that that's a huge mistake. I think editing could be better (part of my only nay) but this story is too good to miss because of snobbery.

Nays:

1) A lil unbelievable 

I sat here for a few moments trying to come up with negatives for this book, but they're hard to come by. I can say that Cole is the sweetest and most understanding teenage boy I've ever read, and it's hard to believe he's real. It's hard to describe, but there's some small something missing from Into the Hollow that keeps me from rating it a full 5 stars. I think the writing is a little off in places, especially dialogue portions, possibly because this is an indie book (as far as I can tell). As we speak though, I'm reading another of Lynn Vroman's novels because I can't believe I haven't heard more about her before. 

I highly recommend Into the Hollow for anyone looking for an engrossing novel about family, love, and hope/hopelessness in a rich Appalachian setting.
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This book was beautifully heartbreaking

This book comes in two POV’s Cole’s and Freedom. It took me till about 20% to get into the book but once I did I wasn’t able to put it down. We meet Free who meets Cole while she’s working at the grocery store. She lives with her dad and brother in a shack that doesn’t have electricity. (I think will all need to do that at some point to just be able to unplug from the world) Cole is a senior in high school and he doesn’t have the greatest home life with this mom being on drugs, his dad is in jail and his sister has a child of his own.
This was a well written coming of age story. There were times where I was laughing, crying, laughing and crying again. The relationship that Cole and Freedom develop is bitter sweet.

This is one that I defiantly think that you all should check out and read for yourself.
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Free, her father and brother are living in a shack without electricity in West Virginia. Free doesn't have any friends or go to school, but she does have a job at a grocery store while her father devises plans to make money. Free doesn't have any friends, her background is mysterious, but from the beginning she is not helpless. She is doing what she can to help her family. 

The book is written from 2 POVs. We meet Cole, a senior in high school who also has a desperate home life. His mother is junkie, his sister has a child and his brother and father are in jail. By 15% of book, Free has caught Cole's eye and they meet when they both work together at the grocery store, bonding over the generosity of the owner who gives them stale and unsaleable foods. 

Not surprisingly, Free's dad gets involved in a bad situation, turning her world upside down. Cole is there to help and he is a constant fixture in the story from then on. Cole and Free help each other, it isn't a story of just a boy who helps a girl in need.

This is a heartbreaking read, filled with hope, friendship and love. The character development is great, giving you small pieces of Free and Cole's lives. There was no unnecessary drama and it does have a happy ending.
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The story is told in a way that reveals the many sides of Free, first as the main provider in her family and second as a student with a bright future. The introduction to Cole was also done well because he shows a different side to a similar life. There was a good balance between the darkness of their struggles and the brightness of their potential as well as how else life could look like for Free and Cole, separately and together.

The story started suspenseful with secrecy and twists and slowly became more of a romance. It read to me a bit like a New Adult novel, without the sexual content. The way the characters started a bit mysteriously and with their own baggage, and then the story evolved into how they find solitude in each other as a way to escape their struggles was very similar to how New Adult stories are structured.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys young adult contemporary stories with characters who are rough around the edges, who also discover themselves and come into their own. It’s a solid story about teens who are forced to grow up fast, sacrifice for their families, and have more adult experiences than any senior in high school should have to face.
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