by Kelly Fiore
To be published on January 5, 2015
by Harper Teen
Source: eARC for review from the publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated. Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills. Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.
My take: It's always interesting for me to read eARCs I've requested months before, because I forget what I asked for and then am completely surprised by what I have. I'd read a prior book by Kelly Fiore -- a fluffier rom-com -- so I wasn't really expecting a gritty family drama about a girl wracked with guilt over causing her brother's death.
All in all, I thought Thicker Than Water was really well-done. The story alternates between the present, in which CeCe is an inpatient in a psychiatric treatment center, and the past, in which we watch the events that led up to Cyrus' death. I found CeCe a very sympathetic character and --- though I'm not typically a fan of the flashback-flashforward method of storytelling -- stayed interested as the story slowly doled out the puzzle pieces of the circumstances that led to the downward spiral of CeCe's family and brought her to trial. Since I always understood if the story was in the past or the present, I think the technique was a great choice and helped build suspense.
The family relationships in the story were well-drawn and, at times, completely heartbreaking. I mean, there's nothing worse than watching someone you love go through something terrible and feel like there's nothing you can do. Or, that you try to do something and it ends up being the wrong thing. There's a touch of romance in the story that some may feel is misplaced, but I liked the way that the story shows CeCe being involved in one ill-fated relationship and another that has some promise.
The minor issue I had was my complete lack of surprise about the ending. From the outset, I could predict the kind of story I was getting and I was right. (That's not a bad thing in the context of the story, but just saying...)
Thicker Than Water is a very topical book about troubled family relationships and the sad fact that addiction is something that can happen in any family. If you like gritty realistic fiction, you should definitely check it out!