Abuse of Discretion

Abuse of Discretion

Abuse of Discretion by Pamela Samuels Young (Suspense)

Sexting is the topic of this excellent courtroom drama. Fourteen-year-old Graylin has a nude photo of a classmate on his cell phone, and someone has tipped off the police. Graylin didn’t take the photo; someone Snapchatted him anonymously, but he took a screenshot and now faces charges of possession of child pornography. He hasn’t distributed it or even shown it to his best friend, but if he is found guilty as charged, this straight-A student and all-around good kid will go on record as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Compounding the odds against him is the fact that he is a black kid with an ex-con for a dad and a drug-addicted mother who has disappeared from his life. His school friends and family and his attorney, Angela Evans, are all black, as is the author, which gives this novel a welcome freshness in point of view and experience. And, it is a fast-paced, all-absorbing story that was hard to put down.

The story is told through the eyes of several individuals, including Graylin, his friends and family, Angela, and also The Shepherd, a sex trafficker who specializes in kidnapping children. As book three in the Dre Thomas Series, it continues the story of Angela’s boyfriend, Dre Thomas, whose niece was taken by The Shepherd. His testimony has put The Shepherd in prison, and The Shepherd is out for revenge.

Author Pamela Samuels Young is an attorney with experience in the juvenile justice system, and online safety is one of her areas of interest. Sex trafficking in the United States is another topic she covers in an effort to raise awareness about dangers facing young people today. Abuse of Discretion makes a thought-provoking statement about current-day sexual permissiveness in advertising, movies, and television: How can we blame today’s children for accepting as normal what we have allowed to become ubiquitous in their environment?

Grandma gives Abuse of Discretion five stars. 5 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I’m Not Her

I'm Not Her

I’m Not Her by Cara Sue Achterberg (Science Fiction & Fantasy)

I’m Not Her is a body-swap story, which makes it a combination of fascinating and terrifying. What would it be like to suddenly “be” someone else—to live in that person’s body instead of your own and to have to be her, day in and day out, for better or for worse?

Carin is an attractive, spoiled, well-heeled young woman who looks down her aristocratic nose at Leann, the morbidly obese young cashier at the local grocery store. Leann leads a tough, impoverished life, and she has no use for the skinny, snotty Carin who buys organic food and puts on airs. When an accident in the checkout lane causes the two women to swap bodies and identities, but maintain their own personalities, the adventure for both of them begins.

Some of it is predictable. Carin learns what it’s like to be shunned because of her physical appearance, and she comes face-to-face with the realities of survival at the bottom of the social ladder. Leann, meanwhile, finds that possessing good looks and money is no guarantee of eternal happiness. Their lives are further complicated by Leann’s precocious and lovable five-year-old son, Trevor, whom Carin in her new role comes to love and wants to nurture and protect, while Leann realizes she cannot live without him and must get him back, even if she no longer looks like the mother he loves. Leann’s low-life husband provides added tension and danger to Carin’s new life and Trevor’s safety.

Both Carin and Leann take turns narrating their experiences as they attempt to negotiate the lives and relationships of their new identities. The author does a good job of giving each her own distinct voice and personality, which they maintain throughout the book even as we watch them grow and change within their awkward circumstances. Meanwhile, Carin’s family and friends must cope with her new honesty unfettered by fake niceties, while Leann’s abusive husband finds his wife’s not so submissive anymore.

My one complaint is the ending, which leaves a bunch of loose ends and implies a future that feels a little too simple after such major upheavals for both women and their acquaintances. But since the entire thing is a fantasy, suspension of disbelief and assumption of a rosy future may not be all that much to ask.

Grandma gives I’m Not Her four stars. 4 stars

Bella Reads and Reviews received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.