I had previously read Arnold's more recent publication, Burn Sacred is about a teenage girl who has just lost her brother. Sacred did not fail. One of the main things I loved about this book was the way in which Arnold handles the eating disorder. Instead it's raw, painful and disturbing.
I have known several people who have suffered with eating orders, depression and both and I can honestly say that the way that these were described in the book were very real and accurate. Not only did this give the story a difficult depth, making it hard to read at points, it also made it compelling and relatable. I don't think I would be alone in saying that eating disorders, whether you have it yourself or someone close to you suffers, are a very complex thing and I think that Arnold's depiction of these is honest and true.
I would like to praise Arnold on tackling these sensitive issues. For that reason, I do put a trigger warning on this book. However, this was not the entirety of the book. The character development in this book is fantastic. We are shown almost a full cycle of grief in this novel.
Of course, this is going to have an impact on each member in the family and each deals with it in different ways. We are introduced to Scarlett as she is beginning to suffer from her eating disorder, to her mother as an empty shell and her father as a man who is just trying to hold his fragile family together on threads.
Throughout the book we see their progression through their grief, from the invisible mother who is lost and isolated by her depression to the daughter who isn't coping as well as she makes out, and we see them all overcome their grief. This is an interesting and heartbreaking journey which captivated me throughout my reading. I also found it particularly interesting to see the development of relationships with friends, boys and the different adults. Arnold has certainly done her research into these issues, and it helps to create some characters that you will not be able to stop caring about even when the final page is turned.
I also commend Arnold on her love story.
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It is not like most Young Adult Contemporary where the two characters meet and there's an instant connection well Scarlett is dating Andy, a complete and utter jerk, who only cares about himself. I did find that he was also very complex, but he didn't seem to have any consideration for Scarlett's feelings. There relationship is simple. It is not until the introduction of Will that things hot up.
Their relationship develops throughout the first half of the book and it's incredibly seamless how they go together.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading as they grew closer and their relationship blossomed and looking at the different angles and twists and turns it took. The supernatural elements of the story only proved to pique my interest and get me hooked onto the story- why was he so drawn to this girl? What exactly were his powers? And although there were these elements of supernatural, it was great to see how natural it all seemed with the inclusion of religion. To top it off, Judaism is not a topic covered in much literature at all, so I was excited to learn about the mysticism of the lifestyle and religion.
One of the things that did detract from my enjoyment of the novel was the pacing, however.
It seemed a lot slower that Burning, which is not a fault exactly, but it did take me off guard. I was expecting a quick and enjoyable read, but Sacred certainly wasn't that. And yet, while it was difficult and slow, I couldn't help but be dragged along with the story and felt inclined to continue and continue and continue. I flew through the last half of the book!
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I honestly cannot wait for the sequel to come out in November of this year, because Elana K. Arnold is a fantastic writer who I can see myself reading for years to come. What happens to these two lovers? I don't know, but I will do in a few months! Jul 13, Maggie rated it really liked it Shelves: ya , , pbook , library-book. After reading Elana K. Given how much I loved Burning I had pretty high expectations for this one and while I definitely prefer Burning , Sacred is also a great book.
A lot of the time I tend to just quickly read through books, but there's something about Elana K. Arnold's books that make me slow down and really appreciate the fantastic writing and the interesting, nuanced stories. And that's something that I really love. The book starts before Scarlett's junior year of high school. Her brother passed away a few months before and she isn't dealing with it very well.
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Her mother has completely shut down, her father is trying to hold everything together while managing his own grief, and Scarlett has developed some serious issues around eating and self-harm. Pretty much the only thing Scarlett enjoys is riding her beloved horse.
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Quite a bit of the entire story takes place inside Scarlett's head, which is a very sad, tragic place to be. I liked Scarlett so I didn't mind being in her head, and I really was rooting for her, but still, the book certainly has a very depressing feel a lot of the time. It's almost like you have to take your time reading it so you're not overwhelmed by the sadness. At the beginning of the book, while Scarlett is riding her horse, she meets Will, a mysterious newcomer to her small community on Catalina Island.
Scarlett and Will are drawn to each other, kind of by a higher power, and their connection builds throughout the book even though there are some serious underlying issues and secrets that Will is keeping. I would describe it more as mysticism rather than fantasy or science fiction. Maybe this would be fantasy or science fiction to some people, but to me it seemed very real. And I'm not a fan of fantasy or sci-fi. I'm also a super-skeptical person, and while I was skeptical at times, I didn't have a difficult time buying into what was happening here.
Part of me is always bothered by books where the main character overcomes serious issues by herself or with the help of a guy. I always worry that this sends the wrong message to other people dealing with serious issues that they should be able to fix themselves or seeking help from a mental health professional is wrong or unnecessary. I had a lot of that here, but I also liked the way that Will opened Scarlett's mind to help her think of how she was hurting herself in another way and then Scarlett ultimately worked hard to change her habits and look at her life in a different way.
Arnold a must-read author for me. Her incredible writing and different, creative stories are just a joy to read and I am very excited to read the sequel to Sacred , Splendor , which comes out in November.
This review first appeared on my blog. Sacred by Elana K. Arnold was a tough read in the beginning. But because the subject and emotions that were found in those first chapters was heartbreaking. Scarlett and her family are still struggling with the death of her older brother, Ronny. After an unexpected cerebral aneurysm in the middle of a soccer game, the sudden loss becomes unbearable to this family. With a mother who is barely living, locking herself in the bedroom self medicating herself with sleeping p Sacred by Elana K.
With a mother who is barely living, locking herself in the bedroom self medicating herself with sleeping pills to ease her pain, a father who is trying to keep the peace, and Scarlett who has chosen to harm herself in order deal with the loss. Her only escape is riding. To feel while riding her horse along the trails.
But Scarlett soon learns that Will was not just some random tourist whom she will never see again. It seems Will and his after have recently moved to Catalina Island to escape a secret of their own. Scarlett instantly feels this pull towards Will, and it seems Will feels the same way. Time and time again, Will plays the part of the hero, and rescues Scarlett time and time again. Little does Scarlett realize that Will also seems to be saving her from herself.
When I first started reading Sacred by Elana K. I was instantly pulled in by the emotional and powerful writing style of author, Elana K. With her descriptive writing, it was easy enough to get completely immersed in the Catalina Island. Because of the beautiful description of the scenery and way of life for the locals, I am even more curious in wanting to visit and experience everything I read for myself. And can I just say that I want my very own Lily! She is a totally awesome best friend, and pretty much embodies just what a best friend should be.
With the story containing a somewhat supernatural element, Will is one character that was so great to follow. A sexy hero in waiting. And the way he deals with Scarlett? How sweet he is, how attentive, and how he is always at the right place at the right time.