Painful Lessons by S.C. Wynne was a wonderfully engrossing story of a young man who finds himself engaged in a scenario seen way too often nowadays. The skillful way S.C. handled an issue like stalking showed me that she is going to be an author that I’ll come back to over and over again.
I really enjoyed S.C.’s writing style in this book. The way she used a past tense first-person narrative really worked for the story. Brett, the narrator, shares his journey in a painfully honest way with the added insights of reflections.
Brett’s ability to add ominous additions about how he should have realized what was happening or what Jeremy meant by certain statements added a delicious note of creepiness. You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen but you know it isn’t going to be good. It really kept me in suspense and unable to put the book down.
He’s also a humorous narrator–my favorite kind. After everything he goes through, he maintains his ability to crack jokes and be a bit of a smartass. Which is a great counterpoint to such a heavy subject matter.
Brett has a few problems he’s working through. His relationship with his father is terrible and he never learned to value himself. Needing an external source of self-esteem makes him easy prey for a predator like Jeremy. When Jeremy makes him feel special and wanted, Brett allows himself to be treated terribly.
The dude needs some therapy, for sure.
As someone who has studied social issues like stalking and domestic violence, I am really particular about how they are represented in mass media. S.C. did a really great job. The fear and helplessness that so many victims feel was captured perfectly and I really commend her for that. Plus, Jeremy was a well-written character. He was complex and manipulative. The way she had him prey on vulnerable freshman was very characteristic of the type of predator that he was.
Jeremy treats Brett like crap and then manipulates Brett into feeling guilty. That’s classic power/control wheel! I hope people reading this book will realize how easy it is to sucked into an unhealthy relationship. Especially when that person doesn’t have a good support system, like Brett.
On the other hand, I was a bit disappointed with how Brett jumped from one relationship (an awful and abusive one at that) directly into another one. It was good that he had someone there to support him while he dealt with the backlash from Jeremy but it didn’t allow him time for personal growth.
Though I will concede that most people his age bounce from relationship to relationship in a desperate search for acceptance/love/attention/whatever so it’s actually a believable and realistic portrayal of a young adult. Still, I would have liked to have seen Brett take a little more time for himself.
All in all, Painful Lessons was just the right combination of fear, humor and seduction. It will reel you in on the very first page and hold you captive until the very end. A wonderful new adult book that I highly recommend.
**NOTE: If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, being emotionally manipulated, or stalked please know that there are resources available to you. A great place to start is the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Copy provided in exchange for a fair and honest review.
As a freshman both in love and in college, sometimes there are painful lessons to be learned.
Excited to begin his first year of college, Brett Bridgeworth has just one problem: he sucks at math. Luckily there’s the sensual and mysterious math tutor, Jeremy Price, to help him out. It isn’t long before Jeremy is tutoring Brett in more than just pie charts, but it isn’t until they split up that Brett discovers Jeremy’s twisted, obsessive side.
Sam Hawthorne is two years ahead of Brett, and they share a strong mutual attraction. When Brett breaks it off with Jeremy and gets involved with Sam, disturbing things start happening. It soon becomes obvious that Jeremy isn’t willing to let Brett go without a fight.