Becoming Phoebe by J. Michale Neal
Publisher: Melancholy Donkey Press
Publication Date: February 2016
Eighteen-year-old Phoebe Rose spent her childhood in one foster household after another, never having a place she could feel safe or a group of friends she could say she belonged to. What kept her going was hockey. The rink was the only place she felt at home.
Now what she wants more than anything is to play on her college hockey team—where she hopes she can leave her past behind and create a new life. But she knows things are never that simple or easy.
Becoming Phoebe is about painful secrets, unexpected friendships, and joining a team so you can become your true self.
*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review
Found on the streets at four, Phoebe has known for a long time that hockey is her life. Because of her traumatising and confusing childhood, she has to deal with a lot of bad memories, and does not know how to break out of her default survival mode and start living. Phoebe Rose is definitely a one of a kind sort of character. She’s intelligent, loyal, intuitive, and filled with determination to never let her team down.
When I read the synopsis of this book, I certainly wasn’t expecting a story this deep or moving. There is a very original mix of characters who have their own individual voices and turn out to be a bit more complex than is hinted in their first appearances. The story is narrated by Phoebe herself, and her voice reflects her strong personality and the way she views everything around her (including herself). The well placed flashbacks are realistic, and add to the general depth and rawness of the emotions in the novel.
I like the fact that the more disturbing scenes are narrated in such a way that they come off as pensive, instead of just horrifying or graphic. Phoebe as a narrator is not one to dwell on the past. Instead, she tells it and moves on (to the best of her ability). I do think that the arrangement of the chapters made part of the reading experience a bit confusing. But once I was able to understand the pattern, things went on more smoothly.
Becoming Phoebe is a very well thought out, beautifully written story. It’s touching and filled with “realistic angst” that is not for the faint hearted. 🙂