Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Julia would much rather work with horses at the rescue barn than worry about things like dating and makeup. But when her BFF meets a boy at camp, Julia’s determined not to get left behind. After a makeover from her older sister, she posts a picture of herself online and gets a comment from Tyler—a seemingly nice kid who lives across town. As they DM more and more, Julia’s sure that Tyler understands her in a way her family never has. Even better, their relationship earns her tons of attention at school.
Then Julia finds out Tyler’s true plan, and her world is turned upside down. She fiercely guards her secret, but could her silence allow her friends to fall into the same trap?
In this timely, heartfelt debut, author Sydney Dunlap tells a story of a middle-school girl who narrowly escapes becoming a victim of human trafficking and must find her way toward hope and healing after this traumatic event.
Release Date: 21st February 2023
Genres: Teen, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Friendship, Trafficking/Human Trafficking/ Kidnapping, Family, Relationships, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mental Health, Horses, Animals, Trauma.
Thank you so much to Jolly Fish Press and Netgalley for the ebook to read and review.
Review: Julia is feeling lonely and left out after her best friend Nori comes back from summer camp. Nori has grown up, wearing make up and has a boyfriend. When Julia posts a photo of herself all made up and looking mature a boy comments and starts messaging her and they meet up, but she finds he isn’t all he said he was.
This book made me uncomfortable, I’m not going to lie at all it did, I was tense, I was uncomfortable and it was actually pretty hard for me to read. It was a very heavy topic and subject matter, the events that occurred within the story are dark and deep and terrifying. It’s hard for me to know what to say about this honestly, I’m not certain exactly what words to write.
Julia is already going through so much as she feels like Nori is pulling away from her and leaving her out, even though Nori was going through so much too and actually needed Julia by her side. The two get into such a miscommunication together. I was so sad for them drifting apart they seemed to have this amazing connection that was separating as everything they both were going though forced them further away. I was happy they eventually figured everything out together.
What happened to Julia was really scary and how easily she fell prey to it was extra scary. Just one simple message and she got hooked into a very dangerous web. This wasn’t an easy read, but I get how it is important, to show teens that it’s so easy to get swept into it and tricked. It was so vividly written though which I think makes it even harder to read, you are literally feeling like you are there with her. So scary.
I liked that Julia had her horses, such a great therapy animal and she needed them before she knew she needed them. I loved that she was making friends with new girls, it was sad it took her so long to fully trust and share with them though. I loved reading about the therapy sessions it was written in such a great way and had such delicate and soft, helpful advice that can be helpful for so many different issues.
This book is important, it’s heavy, it’s scary, it’s dark, it’s reality for so many in this world. It shows you the before, the during, the after and the healing. It shows you everything the good and the bad. It doesn’t tiptoe at all around the dark and scary stuff, but it also wasn’t easy to read due to all this. A very impactful and deep, very well written story.