Title: Pieces of Olivia (Charleston Haven #1)
Author: Melissa West
Publisher: Penguin/InterMix Books
Publication date: July 15th 2014
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Arc received from Publisher via Netgalley – thank you!
In a nutshell: After reading this book: My mind = blown
|Olivia Warren used to be a normal girl with a bright future.
But on one fated night, everything changed.
Hiding the scars of her past up her sleeves, Olivia transfers her enrollment from Columbia University to The College of Charleston, determined to pursue her own dreams for the first time in her life.
She intends to allow herself a bit of alone time to heal… that is, until she meets Preston.
Preston is best friends with her roommate, completely hot, and off-limits. But the chemistry between them is instantaneous—and as the pair begins to spend more time with one another, their feelings for each other build into something undeniable, something powerful enough to heal Olivia’s deepest scars.
Olivia tries to put her own past behind her and trust Preston, but she discovers that his past might be more present than she ever bargained for…
If I have ever stated in a review I would never be able to get over a certain book/overcome a book hangover/love another book again after that certain one — scratch that all. Because after finishing Pieces of Olivia I realized that all those words are all so untrue. I have NEVER been so stoked as I am now because Melissa West has created such a captivating story and I seriously cannot think of another NA book that has torn me so emotionally apart the way Pieces of Olivia has. This book is just freaking. Amazing!!!
Pieces of Olivia starts off – excuse me – pretty mundane. Girl with a dark past (aka Olivia) goes to college to start over again, girl meets boy who happens to have a lot of charisma, girl finds a new best friend in her roomie, girl’s relationship to her parents is all tensed up blah blah. Luckily, this impression lasted for only 5 pages maybe because there are so many unique things about the books that make it outstanding in the NA genre!
I really really adored the book’s MC, Olivia. As you might have figured out from the title of the book, she is not the humdrum kind of person but a character with so many “facets” (as German people like to put it). I was magnetized by her own story, magically drawn to following her on her journey to finding herself. It would be almost an understatement to say I was intrigued to find out more about her “pieces”: Why is she such a broken character? What happened to her in that one ominous night?
Here’s the thing that makes the story awesome: Olivia is real. She is insecure and hurt, drowning in the past which embraces her like a bubble of guilt and loneliness. Yet, she is never that compassion-seeking kind of girl; instead, she often surprised me with her refreshing wittiness and smartness. Ultimately, I could really empathize with her different stages of grief and she is – by far – one of my favorite NA heroines.
Also, the chemistry between her and Preston is just undeniable! He really gets under her skin with his carefree and easygoing attitude. But again, he is not a flawless person, either, but enigmatic and – in a way – broken character, too. Also, he often really surprised me with his honesty and understanding way:
It’s hard to trust someone when you’ve been burned before, ya know? I prefer to stay in control, ahead of it. Less damage that way. (Kindle position 918)
Life. We move through it, we plan, we try. But at the end of the day, like the weather, it’s all just a guess. We can’t stnad inside all day, afraid of the rain. We have to live. (Kindle position 931)
His loving and loyal friend nature was just so adorable; it was so refreshing how both he and Olivia try to keep up their “no strings attached” policy. He is fascinated by Olivia and her no nonsense attitude and eventually even makes her finding faith in not only other people but also herself again. But there is so much more about his considerateness. He just embodied the perfect mix of airiness and depth — no wonder Olivia falls head over heels in love with him.
Another enjoyable aspect in the book I really did not see coming was Olivia’s therapy sessions. Rose, her psychologist is actually a person who really gets her without fulfilling that typical (hypocritical) therapist stereo type. It was so heartwarming to see there friendship growing since they clearly care deeply for each other.
Also, Olivia’s friendship with her roommate, Kara, was just so sweet and adorable and you just can see how they can always rely and count on each other. Kara is more of that outgoing type of person and through her, Olivia slowly starts to open up to other people. I really liked the fact that Olivia doesn’t take advantage of her (since Kara happens to be Preston’s best friend) but she can feel that there is some kind of secret they are withholding from her. And that certain something was just wow wow wow.
There were so many passages I just had to highlight while reading the book due to their memorable-ness. It was soft and poetic when it needed to be, yet blunt and straightforward when the moment required. Melissa West perfectly captures Olivia’s feelings in her book: Sadness, grief, but never without that streak of hope and even happiness. The book is heart-wrenching in showing how she finally finds the strength to trust other people again without being always cautious to get hurt. I loved that this book went back and forth between the past and the present. I loved we got glimpses of things that happened to Olivia before, how happy she used to be and eventually finds that piece of happiness again.
I am not quite sure what I was expecting from the book but definitely not such an emotionally enthralling, heart-touching and deeply moving read. I was an emotional wreck after finishing the book and I’m still so stoked by the story. The book just showed me once again why I love to come back to the NA genre. Pieces of Olivia ended so beautifully, in fact the last chapter was probably one of the best endings I’ve ever read. It left me with both joy for what is and sorrow for what was. This book oozes with emotion that I can’t stop myself from crying. It tugs at my heart and it didn’t let go until I read the whole story. If you want to be floored by a book and become so involved in the story that the outside world melts away; read Pieces of Olivia. It is one emotional disaster and I loved it with all of my broken heart. So read it.
By the way, I really wish they would’ve chosen another cover for the book. For me, the girl on the cover looks just a little bit too tough…it just does not capture Olivia’s brokenhearted-ness. But I still like it, though.