Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I'm Better Under Your Reflection

Publisher: InterMix
Age: Adult
Series: In Focus #2
Source: Review Copy/ Netgalley

Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option… (Summary from Goodreads.com)

*I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way influenced my opinions on or statements about the book.*

I'm not sure I'm able to put into words how much Focus on Me meant to me. I literally finished the book less than five minutes ago and I'm on my computer. I had to get my thoughts down.

This book, it's everything.

Focus on Me starts off like a romantic comedy. Two boys are on the road together because of happenstance and a split second decision. They're sharing jokes, hotel rooms, and eventually kisses. Had the book followed traditional romance guidelines it could have ended directly in the middle. No, lie, happily ever after at 50%. And that would have been a hell of a mistake.

Gradually, Colin and Riley's relationship changes as Riley's mental illness becomes more apparent. At first Riley gets harmless mood swings. Then he starts physically and emotionally clinging to Colin. His doubt and paranoia creep in to the point he's convincing himself Colin wants him to watch him have sex with another guy. Focus on Me's climax comes on like a slow car crash. The impact and explosion are inevitable, but you still hope it will go better than what you're imagining.

Reading Focus on Me hit me hard, because I've been through all of this before. From both sides. First with my sister. Next with myself and my depression. I could see where Riley was coming from so clearly because I have been at that exact place before and if I didn't have friends and family, just like Riley did, it would have been over. No question.

That's why this book is so important. Yes, I adored Riley and Colin. Their love story was heartwarming and the real-life kind of perfect. I want to know more about Quinn and Jessica and pretty much everyone in Focus on Me and Megan Erickon's many other book series. I will never be able to go through life again without shopping for souvenir pigs or naming dogs Dallas.

But this book will forever mean everything because of one message. Love is not enough to cure mental illness. Lord knows I wish it was. But it isn't. Mental illness a struggle every single day and sometimes it gets so difficult you sink right back into that hole where you wanted to give up everything. Your interests. your friends. your family, your life. It is essential to seek professional help and to want to get better for yourself.

I am so, so, so glad and thankful that Erickson chose to write Focus on Me. For herself, for people like me, and for everyone out there who knows what it's like to be on one side or the other of the mental illness equation. It matters. I cannot say that enough. There are so few books I've read that accurately reflect and articulate how I act, even how I feel when I go through a depressive episode. This is the first one that hit it so perfectly and I will never forget that.

Please, please, please buy this book. It's a hot, swoony, and fun romance that I loved. And a truthful look into mental illness, which I desperately needed. Trust me when I say you'll love it and want to read all the rest of Erickson's books. She's phenomenal. (I suggest starting with Trust the Focus, starring Justin and Landry, two precious guys who play a big role in Focus on Me and have an adorable love story.)

Teaser Line: "In another life Col, I-I think it could be you. I swear." (...)
"I guess our timing is off, then, because I think it could be you, too. In this life."

Happy Reading (and Getting Healthy), 

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