Review: The Debt by Tyler King

Note: This ARC was provided by Grand Central Publishing (Forever) in exchange for an honest review.

"Every day all I want is to lean on you and get as far away from you as possible. You were the only person I could talk to and the last person I wanted to tell." By the time the words fell out of my mouth, I was almost in tears. "My life didn't begin until I met you. I've loved you every day that matters. I'm so fucking in love with you and you scare the shit out of me."

This book! Goodness gracious (and yes, I actually do say goodness gracious) how I loved this book! The Debt was undoubtedly a journey for the main character, Josh MacKay, a truly gifted musician whose past has dictated a great deal of how he lives his life today. This journey he's on is one he's shared with his best friend, Hadley Mitchell, since they were placed in the same foster home at the age of five. It's got angsty drama and snarky humor, two things I both can't get enough of in the books I read, and if the quality of writing from debut author Tyler King is this good or even better in her future endeavors, then she's got herself a fan in me. Fingers crossed that this is just the first of many more fantastic reads from Tyler King.

Imagining Josh MacKay without Hadley Mitchell is near impossible and Josh is the first who'll admit that he could never see himself without his best friend in his life. She also happens to be the only girl he's ever loved, but they're both damaged to varying degrees and one particular event four years ago left their friendship marred and neither one talking about what happened has placed them in limbo, both stuck in neutral. If they don't resolve what's been festering for years between them, then they may be left with no alternative but to go their separate ways, albeit the possibility of it Hadley moving away from Josh seems more likely than the other way around. Everyone can see how much one loves the other, so why can't they?

Being in foster care was a nightmare for Josh and Hadley, but that nightmare continues to haunt Josh and the effects of what happened to him manifest in ways he can't seem to control and they shadow him incessantly. Hadley, too, feels the lingering aftermath of her parents' deaths and just like Josh, she doesn't really acknowledge it, leaving them both not really dealing with what happened as children, allowing it to touch them as adults. This leads to a toxic type of relationship at times, almost as if their silence and feigned nonchalance enables the other to perpetuate the "bad" behavior. But they're both enabler and support system, one counterbalancing each other because without one, the other would cease to function.

Josh and Hadley's story is heartrending and uplifting and it is, by no means, an easy or light read. I'm going to warn you that there may be triggers in the story that could bother some readers, especially as far as sexual abuse of a minor goes. It's easy to see these two, especially Josh, as victims but what they've actually done is survive as best they can with the remnants of the past that refuse to or will probably never really go away. The book isn't just about them moving forward with their relationship as friends to becoming what they were always meant to be, but also with acknowledging the past and opening lines to honest communication and choosing to find ways to get a better handle on dealing with years-old trauma.

This book was blessed to have two main characters that I found myself falling in love with, not easily but gradually, and I quite preferred it that way because I felt like I really got to know both Josh and Hadley and accepted them, faults and all, and wanted them to find happiness within themselves and with one another. There are also numerous supporting characters that were notable--Corey, Trey, Asha, Andre, Reid, and Simon--and who each impacted the outcome of the story. Out of all of them, I hope Andre gets his happily-ever-after because the poor guy was dealing with issues that included his sexuality and his family. And hey, I'd never say "no" to Corey and Grace as well as Trey and Asha finding happiness as well.

Over the past couple of weeks or so, I've taken to writing down notes while I read since I've recently discovered that it helps me put together my reviews much easier than before. The Debt was the first book that had me filling three pages (and if you had any idea how compact my writing is and how many lines were on each page, you'll realize that those were loads of notes). This was a story about how loving one person should not only be about being willing to do anything and everything necessary for them but how it should also inspire you to do the same for yourself. Just like in real life, there are no easy or quick fixes for Josh and Hadley, but together and with the people they care about, nothing is impossible. Five-plus stars. ♥

Date Read: 15 May 2016

Learn more about Tyler King.

Purchase The Debt on Amazon | B&N | Kobo.


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