Review: The Tattered Gloves by J.L. Berg

Note: This ARC was provided by the author via InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review.

Bestselling author J.L. Berg moves from her established niche of sexy contemporary romances with a heartwarming and inspiring young adult (YA) love story in The Tattered Gloves. Sixteen-year-old Willow Fairchild takes a bus that leads her to her aunt’s doorstep—an aunt she’s never met and who happens to be her mother’s twin, the same mother who used their home as her place of business, having men pay her for sex. She gave Willow three simple rules: head down, don’t look up, and never make eye contact. That meant Willow never leaving her room while her mother “entertained” a client…until the one night that she did. Now, she’s simply going through the motions, giving the bare minimum while living with her aunt and starting her junior year in a new high school. Can Willow open herself up to the possibility of finding a true best friend, a chance at being a regular teenager, and maybe, just maybe, discovering young love with Sam Shepherd?

This was a thoughtful story, one that wasn’t just about falling in love but about discovering who you really are and finding your footing in a world that you had given up on. Willow’s life with her mother was as far from ideal as you could get, and while the trauma she experiences isn’t explicitly laid out, it’s pretty easy to figure out what it is she went through. Life begins again with her Aunt Addison, but this woman is a stranger to her and Addy hasn’t had any experience rearing a child since she’s very much single and has no children of her own. My heart broke for both of them, because it was clear Addy was trying really hard to make up for not having been there all those years for Willow but Willow was wary and still dealing with the aftereffects of what happened to her. Their relationship is as important as the one she forms with the two other people who become significant figures in her new life, but this is also the one that creates a foundation for all the rest.

Thank goodness for love stories that take their time, especially when it comes to teenagers. Willow and Sam don’t immediately fall head over heels in love with one another. If anything, there’s some animosity that goes on, no thanks to Willow’s prejudgment of Sam. There’s apprehension and tension and a fair amount of bickering between them, but I loved seeing how they develop from being two strangers who go to the same school and then end up working in the same bookstore to actual friends and then later much more. They’re genuinely good kids, alongside Allison Greer, one of Sam’s close and longtime friends and the girl who refuses to give up on becoming Willow’s friend. With Addy added to the mix, Willow’s support system is stronger than it’s ever been, especially when she’s still dealing with what happened before she moved to Sugar Tree. There was an unexpected twist that played out well, helping to make The Tattered Gloves a 4.5-starred read. ♥

Date Read: 03 February 2017

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