Sunday, January 6, 2013

ARC Review: Empty by K.M. Walton

Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Publication Date:  January 1st, 2013

Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one—not even her best friend—gets all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.

Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of the heartbreak and name-calling stop?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This review has given me a lot of trouble.  I've had a tremendous amount of difficulty putting my feelings about this book on paper because the feelings are so complicated.  I really hated this book in so many ways.  It left me feeling ugly inside, and I think I sat in my bed for about 20 minutes, hand over my mouth, in shock at how it all ended.  This book does not contain an ounce of good feeling in it.  Everything about it made me feel uncomfortable and really, really sad.  The thing about that is that that was exactly how I was supposed to feel.  This book is raw, and graphic.  It gets right down to the nitty gritty of the effect bullying can have on a young person.  Some people come out on the other side of it, others don't, but nobody comes away unscathed.  The title is absolutely fitting, because it left me feeling just that, empty...

Dell's story is not unique.  Young people face the kinds of abuse Dell faced in Empty every day, most of the time, silently, or worse, like Dell, with a mask of humor to hide their hurt.  Nothing about Dell's, life was easy.  Yes, much of it was of her own doing, but too much of it wasn't, and it was heartbreaking.  I felt sick to my stomach much of the time I was reading this book because Dell didn't just FEEL like she had nobody looking out for her; She really didn't.  She was alone in the world, and dealing with more hurt and ridicule than any one person should ever have to.  Dell never even got her "moment" to show everyone her value as a human being.  Even that was robbed from her.  This book was so truthful and eye-opening, and REAL.  I can't even.  Sometimes there aren't happy endings.  Sometimes people don't ever find joy in their lives.  It is sad, but so heartbreakingly true.  All this being said, I absolutely hated this book.  Yes, it needed to be written, and yes, I think K.M. Walton did an absolutely stellar job writing it, but I can't get past how it made me feel.  It cut me deeply, and I can't forgive it for that.  If you like gripping, gritty, heart-wrenching reads (and I often do- Ellen Hopkins is a personal favorite), then you will probably want to read this, but I can't say that you will enjoy it.  If I could go back in time, would I spend the time reading it again?  Absolutely.  But I still wouldn't like it.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Grade Level Recommendation   This book is for high school age readers and up.  It is graphic in many ways.  There is a lot of language, sex, sexual assault, drinking, drug use, and other mature subjects.  That said, I think this should be REQUIRED reading for HS students, just not before. 

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