Book Review: Dirty Red by Tarryn Fisher

15832316Are you surprised? Of course it’s 5 Stars!

I must truly love Tarryn Fisher because I am deathly ill from the flu and here I am whipping up this review because I just had to write my thoughts out about this wonderful book.

We all know how it feels to take something that doesn’t belong to us. That pencil that you took from a  classmate in grade school, your sister’s favorite sweater.  They look good on you, you feel good in them. But no matter how many compliments and praises you get, you know it’s not yours. So you wallow in guilt while doing all you can to hold on to that momentary high that wearing it or using it makes you feel. Sadly, you know that one day, you’re going to have to give it back.

 This is Leah’s story. This is Leah’s life.

Part Two of the Love Me with Lies series is told from Leah’s point of view. You remember her from the Opportunist right? The one who manipulated her way into getting Caleb to marry her? Flash forward to sometime later, and Caleb and Leah are married and with a baby, while Olivia is (happily?) married to Noah.  Through Dirty Red, we are given insight into Leah’s empty life. We get a view into her life through those vacant, expressionless eyes.

 From the outside, her life is complete. She is married to Caleb and they have a new-born baby, Estella. Caleb is head over heels in love with the baby. As far as she’s concerned, Estella is another threat to the already scarce attention she is getting from Caleb. Caleb is in another world of his own, we find out, he is still pining for Olivia. Every day of her life is spent finding ways to make Caleb love her.

 When I first heard that the sequel to The Opportunist was going to be from Leah’s point of view, I was worried that it was going to be a rehash of the past in a different voice. I was so glad to learn that the story continued on from where it left off. Like the first book, Dirty Red is eloquently written. Tarryn Fisher is a genius at ripping your heart out, stomping on it and leaving you to carry on as if nothing had happened.  And I’m not talking about the way I feel about Leah. I am referring to Caleb.  Sure, Leah had it rough as an adopted child who did not have the love of her parents. Sure, she was overshadowed by her older sister and always had to compete for attention. How many people do we know who suffered the same experience would want to continue their adult life with the mistakes that they swore never to commit once they grew up? Not me. Not very many people.  And yet,  Leah weaves her own web of lies and pretenses, grapples with self fulfillment through shallow, material things, and disregards the values she clamored for as she was growing up.

But Caleb.  He is desperately trying to find something to replace the hole in his heart when he let Olivia go.  He finally thinks he can find it in Estella. My heart breaks for him because I know he might never find it. The author so cleverly leaves but one chapter for us to hear Caleb’s voice. She knew that by the time we hear it, we would be willing to accept all of his shortcomings and faults to throw a happy ending at him. He deserves it. He is just so broken.  I also have to mention how much I enjoyed the addition of Sam, Estella’s manny.  He is the conscience that Leah does not have and desperately needs. He is perfectly snarky and frank and genuine. I sure hope he sticks around to see this story through.

So once again, Congratulations to Tarry Fisher for delivering another masterpiece in every conceivable way. The storyline, the characters, the writing once again leaves no room for criticism. Reading Tarryn’s books makes me feel more like I am listening to an audio book. Every word speaks to me, and if I close my eyes long enough I can feel every stab of pain, every flutter, every touch. Her choice of words are perfect, her analogies create the perfect vision.

 Hate is such a prodigious feeling. It’s hot and oppressive like fire……It moves on to your humanity next, hot tongues flicking across the few remaining threads of innocence until they melt into each other and morph into something ugly. Then, in the rubble of what you were, hate plants a seed of bitterness. The seed grows to a vine and the vine chokes what it touches.

Dirty Red is the perfect second book for a character so misunderstood and disliked.  It is also a realistic glimpse into life and the choices that we make and the irreversible damage of our actions.  These books mean more to me because of personal experience, they speak to me, they teach me, but most of all, they let me know that I’m not alone. But as in my life and those of others, every new day is a second chance.  I am holding out against all hope that Caleb and Olivia get theirs one day….I simply can’t wait to continue this journey.

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