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Review of Can I Stray by Jenna Adams

This is a story told in 3 acts. In act one, we meet Brooke at 14 and Matt at 17. They are cast side by side as Romeo and Juliet and their 'forbidden love' follows them off the stage. What follows is a messy and secretive relationship that triggers some dark mental health issues for Brooke. We follow as the pair grow up and as Brooke abandons Matt and her entire life to start anew but her ties to the past and the trauma she left behind keep pulling her back. 

In act 3, we don't get the happy ending that Jenna Adams teases, but what we're left with is even better. It is ultimately uplifting and inspiring as we see Brooke tackle her complicated young adulthood and her co-dependency issues through therapy. 

What I liked most about this novel was how Adams wrote teenage girlhood. 14 year old Brooke is dramatic and naive but she is clever and self-aware. Adams does not infantilise her, her emotions are valid and complex. The novel deals with some heavy topics including self-harm, consent and statutory rape but again, these are handled carefully by the author, without glamorisation. Whilst I would warn readers about the topics in this book, I also think it would be of genuine help to anyone who has experienced these things. Whilst being an important book in this regard, it was also a fast-paced read that I'd really recommend to all.

Review by Abi.

Can I Stray was published on 11/10/22 by Neem Tree Press.

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