*I was given an advanced reader’s copy of this book for an honest review.
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Price: $9.99 (Kindle Edition); $15.21 (Hardcover)
Review: This novel has been on my TBR List for far longer than I could stand because I was trying to wait until the release date was a little closer to read it. I didn’t want my readers to have to wait months to get their hands on this gem, but I’m so sorry, guys. I couldn’t wait any longer!
This novel had me hooked from the first couple pages and I just couldn’t stop until I reached the end.
I enjoyed every single word of Phoenix and Gretchen’s story and I was (and still am) sad that The Radius of Us came to an end.
The Radius of Us began with our characters being in a state of turmoil. Now, their turmoil isn’t due to similar reasons, but, regardless of the circumstances, they both aren’t at their best.
Gretchen Asher is still dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event that happened about six months ago. She is so distraught and traumatized by all that had happened that night that she’s barely living. She’s lost her sense of independence, she no longer puts effort into her appearance and panic attacks have become apart of her daily life. Gretchen has become a shell of her former self and her friends and family are at a loss as to how to help her get better.
I liked Gretchen and I really felt for her. I’d never been in that type of situation (thank God), but I can only imagine how terrified she must have been. Going through something like that and then seeing the things that she saw afterwards, really affected her and I desperately wanted her family to get her some help because she obviously was having a hard time moving forward.
Phoenix Flores Flores is from El Salvador. He and his little brother, Ari, have fled El Salvador for America, not only because the USA will provide them with a better life, but also because they were in danger of being fatally harmed if they’d stayed. So, Phoenix and Ari are, both, in the process of trying to legally seek asylum in the USA and it’s anything but easy.
I liked Phoenix’s character as well. He had a special place in my heart because of all that he’d been through. Majority of his problems happened when he was around 13, so I really couldn’t hold him accountable for all that had happened. I, probably like most people who read this book, thought that he was a child and children make stupid mistakes. The only thing that’s important is whether or not they learned from said mistakes and there are plenty of examples sprinkled throughout this novel that prove that he has indeed grown and learned from his mistakes, so, of course, I was all for him and Ari being allowed to legally stay in the states.
Speaking of immigration, I think this was the first time that I’d read a book where I got a short look at the the ins and outs of the immigration system. The things that Phoenix and Ari went through weren’t bad, but, then again, they weren’t good either. It was just a long, drawn out process where they spent most of their time sitting on the sidelines waiting for a court date. Then, when that date came, one person, in Phoenix’s case, got to decide if he lives or dies. It’s intimidating and I can understand why Phoenix didn’t want to get his hopes up, especially after hearing all those horror stories.
Speaking of horror stories, the way Ari and Phoenix were treated after the officials at the border quarantined them was terrible. I almost shed a tear for little Ari because the journey across Mexico was extremely hard on him and then being treated like criminals by American officials wasn’t the best either. I also think that separating the brothers wasn’t wise, but they’re going to do what they’re going to do.
For majority of the book, Phoenix and Ari were in limbo because they didn’t really know where their lives were going. Phoenix was dreading going to court and pleading his case to a judge whom he believed, wholeheartedly, wasn’t going to grant him asylum. He was fine with that, but he didn’t want that to be his brother’s fate as well, so he decided to do everything in his power to make sure that his little brother was granted permission to stay in the states. I loved that about Phoenix. I loved how he always put his little brother first. His focal point wasn’t his life, it was Ari’s.
There was quite a few supporting characters, which was good because Gretchen and Phoenix really needed support from friends and family. They all brought something great to the novel, but I think my two favorites were Phoenix’s guardians, Amanda and Sally. I liked how dedicated they were to Phoenix. They really cared about his wellbeing, so he wasn’t just some charity case to them. They really wanted he and Ari to have a wonderful life. I also loved Barbie and Bo. They seemed like a really cool couple and they became really close to Phoenix.
Gretchen’s best friend, Bree, was great to. She was very supportive of her and she did her best to make sure that her best friend was okay. However, she did kind of veer off toward the end of the novel because she got a boyfriend, but I didn’t fault her for that because we all know what it’s like when you fall in love for the first time. Gretchen’s dad, Dan, was also a great character. He was very sweet and he put his own life on hold, for a second time, to take care of Gretchen after she was attacked.
The romance between the two was very sweet and, in a way, very innocent. They didn’t do anything more than kiss, which I kind of liked. They built a friendship first (mostly because Gretchen had a boyfriend when they met), so they weren’t all about sex. They took their time and I enjoyed that.
I also enjoyed the culture shock that Phoenix went through when he first came to America. It was so funny watching him learn the names of different things and gasp at how much money Americans spend on food. He was so shocked. It was also nice watching him try to integrate himself into a different way of living. It was a huge change for him because life in El Salvador is completely different than life in the states, but having friends really helped him out.
Overall, this was an amazing novel and highly recommend it. I have never heard of Ms. Marquardt before, but I noticed that she’d published a book a couple weeks ago, so I’m going to check that one out. It’s called Dream Things True and it’s a romance that also involves immigration, so I think I’m going to give it a try.
Anyway, mark your calendars for The Radius of Us, guys! It’s so worth it and I know you’ll enjoy it. If you do decide to purchase this one, please let me know what you thought of it.
Also, sorry that this was so long, but I just had a lot to say about this one.