Annabella Baker has always lived a normal life with a loving family. She had dreams of going to college and becoming a dancer. But the summer before her senior year, the life she knew is ripped away from her, and she’s left wondering if it ever really existed in the first place.
Six months later, Annabella is living an entirely different life. The loving family she had no longer exists, and the girl who dreamed of being a dancer can barely walk. She spends most of her time getting into trouble and living in denial over what happened. One night she takes things one step too far and is left dealing with the consequences.
Put under house arrest, Annabella can no longer run away from her problems. With the help of her cute, sweet neighbor, Luca Benton, she rediscovers the girl she used to be, and finally learns the truth about what really happened that horrible day that changed her life forever.
***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Shhh Mom’s Reading and the author.
The Illusion of Annabella is an off-beat coming of age story filled with angst and finding out what’s left after loss.
- Annabella is indifferent and misanthropic on the outside and you want to dislike her but it’s hard to. She lashes out on a crazy road to self-destruction that will leave you wanting to shake some sense into her. Riddled with guilt and anger, Annabella (Anna) doesn’t know how to be the sunshine and rainbows girl she once was. There’s too much eating at her soul for constant smiles. What I appreciated about Annabella was how authentic she was. She has scars and secrets that haunt her. She makes mistakes, big ones, and she learns a lot about who she wants to be. Anna oozes sarcasm and bitterness, she fights with sharp barbed comments and hostility. Underneath it all she’s scared and heartbroken. It’s a rough ride with many tough lessons but Annabella discovers that the middle group is okay too.
- Anna’s emotions are deep and burdensome, they suffocate and destroy her. All of her idealistic dreams are shattered and you can feel every heartache, burst of confusion, and rage.
- Jessica Sorensen tackles difficult characters in transition, she captures the darkness that lives within even the happiest of characters. What rang with truth was the family dynamics. As each character struggled with how to deal with their loss and adjusting to a dramatically different way of life, each copes in unique ways. Secondary characters are unique and vary from jaded and angry to playful and full of hope.
- Luca is adorable and pushy in a very loving way. He’s soft and kind, he wiggles his way into Annabella’s life and gets her to laugh again with his strange personality and hilarious comments. Luca recognizes Annabella’s inner demons and invites them out to play, confident that he can soothe them and miraculously, he does. All Annabella needed was a little kindness and the freedom to be the new version of herself without judgement. Together, Luca and Annabella are unconventional and a little unstable but somehow it works.
- Some sections dragged and felt long-winded.
- Annabella’s poor choices and countless times she puts herself in danger are a little hard to understand/deal with. Her internal dialogue seems at odds with her actions.
- The secret hangs over her head through the whole book, coloring every decision, all of her emotions, her relationship with her family and the decision at the end didn’t add up.
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