Reviewed by Long Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com
In her second release, Helen Leung tells the harrowing tale of young Toni, and of both her internal as well as external struggles through four years of growing up in situations filled with hate and negligence, as well as love and compassion.
Raised in an atmosphere filled constantly with resentment and unwelcome, Toni must learn to be a self-reliant young girl and to take care of herself, because no one is willing to do it for her. After her parents desert her with her Uncle Steve, Toni lives a continued life of violent tempers and beatings. Following a particularly brutal disturbance, Toni is found locked in a closet and is immediately taken into the care of the police -- in particular, the care of police officer Matt McKay, whose empathy and compassion for the young girl leaves him both heartbroken and smitten with her. Matt decides to adopt Toni, and the two live a very loving father-daughter relationship. Until Toni's real parents show up out of the blue and decide they want to be parents again.
Over the course of four years, Toni is put through physical and emotional barriers and ties that make the story so amazing and heartfelt. Leung tells the story of a female protagonist who from birth was rubbed against the grain and is pushed back and forth emotionally until she is nearly an adult. Readers will feel empathy for Toni as she faces her struggles head-on and learns the true meaning of family, friendship, love, and, ultimately, trust.
Cheers to H.L.