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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Sadie meets The Glass Castle in a smart, gripping, and twisty YA debut about a girl seeking to reveal the truth about her mother-and herself. Seventeen-year-old Phoenix has spent much of her life drifting from town to town with her mom Nina, using their charms to swindle and steal to get by. Now they've made it to their ultimate destination, Mom's hometown of Jasper Hollow. The plan: bring down Ellis Bowman, the man who ruined Nina's life. When Phoenix gets caught spying on Ellis, she spins a convincing story that inadvertently gives her full access to the Bowman family. As she digs deeper into their secrets (and begins to fall for daughter Melody), she finds herself entrenched in the tale of a death and a disappearance that doesn't entirely line up with what Mom has told her. But there's even more to this story Phoenix doesn't know. Who, if anyone, is telling the whole truth about what happened? Debut author Brooke Lauren Davis explores the murkiness of right and wrong, of ch…

The Hollow Inside

by Brooke Lauren Davis

Overall Book Review:

As children, we typically take our parents word as truth. We have no reason to question their honesty and trust them to take care of us and love us. When we first meet Phoenix, the protagonist of The Hollow Inside, her mother Nina has just asked her to break into and rob someone’s house. Unfortunately, this isn’t a request that surprises Phoenix. She and her mom live unconventional lives, and it seems like nothing surprises Phoenix at this point.  She has learned to roll with the punches and do as her mom says–it’s just easier that way.

As we move further into the story and learn more about the relationship of Phoenix and Nina, it becomes clear that their relationship isn’t the typical mother-daughter bond. Nina has a complicated backstory, and throughout the book we get a glimpse at it in detailed chapters from her point of view. Phoenix knows some of her mom’s history, so when they end up in her mother’s hometown looking for revenge, it’s not a total surprise. It quickly becomes clear that Nina has a plan and that Phoenix is going to play a big part in it.

Phoenix is a smart girl and she’s had to put her quick wittedness to use a lot to keep up with her mom. Her newest plan involves finding the people who have hurt her in the past and putting them in their place, using Phoenix to get close enough so that when the time is right, Nina can strike. What she doesn’t count on is her daughter getting too close, something that could make or break her complicated scheme and maybe even turn her loyal daughter against her.

I’ve really been enjoying the YA genre lately and this book is a terrific addition to the category that I think both boys and girls can enjoy. I look forward to reading more from Brooke Lauren Davis and was very impressed with this, her debut publication! 

Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  9 religious exclamations; 33 mild obscenities; 11 religious profanities; 8 derogatory names; 16 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms; 1 offensive hand gesture; 15 F-word derivatives. 

Violence/Gore:  A mother asks daughter to rob a house; a minor makes verbal threats about shooting but has no gun; a girl lunges at a man, knocking him down a set of stairs; a reference is made to a mother running off at a young age, abandoning child; a woman wakes her daughter in the night to take her away from her father, it is implied that the father is violent as the woman has blood dripping down her face from a supposed altercation; a reference is made about a man being sneaky, he could hold a knife to your throat and kill you; a minor steals food and clothes; a reference is made to a bad childhood, abusive parents and an alcoholic mother are referred to and it is reported that they died in a drunk driving accident; a girl tells an elaborate story about having a knife held to her throat while she is robbed; a mother leaves her daughter for several days and the girl worries maybe an animal “got” her mother; a report is made of a man hitting a boy with his car, boy dead on impact; a mother is reported to leave her daughter for days to each her a lesson; a brief scene occurs where a mother lunges for her daughter and her fingers dig into her shoulders painfully; a girl is startled and accidentally bites the lip of a man she is kissing; a report is made of a man being stung by bees, he collapses and has an allergic reaction; a report is made of a man striking and killing a boy crossing the street; a minor finds out she is pregnant and cries violently, pulls her hair and bites her knuckles until they bleed; a report is made of a woman hanging herself; a report is made of a man robbing a bank; a man falls in a brief scene and injury is implied but her is fine; a man is reported to punch another man; a girl trips and falls into a lake in a brief scene; a woman intentionally backs her van up to ram into a car that is following her and runs the car off the edge of a mountain where it falls and is crushed by the impact, resulting in death (her minor daughter is in the van with her and observes this); a brief scene occurs where an object is thrown through the window of a house and the window glass injures several people, blood and embedded glass are mentioned; a man is stung by bees in a second occurrence and has an allergic reaction, causing him to stop breathing and end up in the hospital; a man violently crushes the shoulders of a girl, pulls her by her hair across a room in brief scene; a man is reported to have murdered a child that is later revealed to be his; a man and woman have a brief altercation and the man falls onto the ground where the woman threatens him with a rock; a man is shot and writhes in pain, some blood is mentioned; a woman is threatened by a man holding a gun, he pulls the trigger but the bullet hits someone else. 

Sex/Nudity:  A reference is made about someone being a creep and probably trying to get pictures of girls changing clothes; women tease a minor girl about an older man being attracted to her; a minor is mentioned to be gently kissed by an adult man; a minor is reported to be having an intimate relationship with a married man, he is reported to “have his way” with her; a girl finds objects in a man’s house that she thinks may belong to minor girls who were victims of his sexual attraction; a man is reported to give a minor a chaste kiss on her mouth; a minor is reported to be pregnant and it is later implied that she has or tries to have an abortion; a girl is reported to have been caught kissing another girl; a girl is reported to work at a gay bar; a girl notices another girl checking her out in one brief scene where they are changing clothes in the same room; a brief scene occurs where two girls touch each other on the arms and legs somewhat intimately; a man kisses his wife; a woman is reported to be sleeping with a married man; a brief scene occurs where a girl changes her clothes in front of another girl and briefly fantasizes about touching her warm skin; two girls kiss and it is mentioned that one of them wants their intimacy to go further.

Mature Subject Matter:

Abandonment of child; same-sex relationship; extramarital affairs; kidnapping; death; death of a child; betrayal.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A mother buys beer for her underage daughter; a minor is mentioned to wake up hungover; a character is mentioned to be drunk; opioid overdose is mentioned; a reference is made to an alcoholic who died in a drunk driving accident; cigarette smoking is implied; a man is mentioned to like to get girls drunk; a man is reported to be very drunk before driving; wine is consumed.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.