Awakened Are the Starry-Eyed by Christine Doré Miller

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The Starry-Eyed Series, 2

A new city and unexpected freedom give Andrea the fresh start she craved, but her haunting past threatens to unrest an already tangled future. In this tense and emotionally stirring sequel to Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed, Awakened will leave you breathless as it navigates the heartbreaking disquiet of one survivor's scattered and uncertain path towards healing.

16+ due to adult situations, sexuality, and dating violence

 

Excerpt:

“Andie!” Ethan shouted with a big grin on his face. He was seated in the crowded hot tub and started to get out when he saw us. Grabbing a towel from the nearby deck chair, he stumbled as he moved. “Phew,” he said when he finally planted himself by me, wrapping his left arm around me for a side hug.

“Come on, man.” I laughed as the warm water dripped from his body onto my shirt. He shook his head quickly, so the droplets spritzed toward me as they flicked from his curly hair. Ethan snickered through his wide smile, his sky-blue eyes dancing.

“You all right?” Carter asked him. “How much have you had to drink?”

“Not enough to talk to you!” Ethan said, his words slurring through some forced laughter.

“Ah, okay, so it’s like that? Let’s talk another time, man, after you sober up. Maybe tomorrow,” Carter offered. “I want us to be cool.”

“I have an easy solution! Don’t move away!” Ethan remarked. His tone sounded like he was joking, but there was truth buried behind the inflection that Carter picked up on, too. I shot Ethan a steely glare, trying with my eyes to get him to stop talking. I didn’t need anything or anyone to give Carter a reason to stay.

“I’m gonna get you some water,” Carter said. “Will you guys stay here for a bit? I’ll be back in a few.” I nodded.

“We’ll miss you!” Ethan shouted mockingly. His body started swaying, and I grabbed his forearm to steady him.

“Come on, Ethan, let’s go sit down in the grass over there.” I held Ethan’s arms as we lowered ourselves onto a soft grassy part of the yard, the noise from the party still buzzing in the background. Once he was planted, he flopped down on his back.

“I think I can literally feel the Earth spinning,” Ethan said with a loud sigh.

“Haha, I think you’re just drunk,” I replied, stretching out next to him, our heads both facing the starlit sky.

Ethan turned his head to face me, his left cheek resting in the grass. I turned toward him.

“You’ll be fine. You just need some water and—”

“Don’t go,” he said quietly, interrupting me.

“Huh? Oh, come on, you’ve got to stop giving me such a hard time for taking Carter away from the band. I promise you guys will find another singer.”

“I don’t care about that,” Ethan continued, suddenly sounding clearheaded. “Don’t go, Andie.”

“You can visit us whenever you want. I know it’s not the same, but we’ll still text like every day,” I reassured him.

“You’re my best friend. It’s always been us against the world, you know?” He paused and took a breath. “What if I still need you even if you don’t need me anymore?”

Each sentence hung more resounding in the thick, humid air as the guilt crept in, disguised as acidic, aching nausea. I squinted my eyes as if that would help me process, but all I saw was Ethan as he lay on the soft grass next to me. His smooth, chiseled face was lit by the twinkly outdoor lights in the tree above us, his pale eyes burning into mine with an earnestness I’d never seen from him before.

“I have to go. You know I have to go,” I said, my voice shaking.

“What if I never get out of here?” he asked quietly.

“All you have to do is make the decision and start driving,” I stated, hoping that if I said it out loud, it would make it true.

“It’s not that easy for everyone, Andie, and you know it. We don’t all have safety nets or parents with money. And some of us have responsibilities here. And friends.”

“That’s not fair,” I protested.

“Are you even going to take a part of me with you? I can’t shake this feeling that you’re just going to disappear.”

“Yo!” Carter’s familiar voice rang out behind us, and I shot up to a seated position.

“Hey!” I said chipperly. He casually sat down next to us, crossing his legs and handing a bottle of water to Ethan as he cracked open a fresh beer for himself. Ethan slowly sat up, too, taking the water from Carter without making eye contact.

“Thanks,” Ethan said softly.

My mind was racing, and I felt soaked in the unrest. I loved Ethan in this profound and endearing way, but if he loved me, too, then he would understand that I wasn’t just running toward something glamorous or exciting; I was saving myself from the town and darkness that threatened to consume me with each tainted memory. There was no way we could laugh through this tension to get back to where we once were. We couldn’t binge-watch dark comedies in my parents’ basement or swap playlists of our favorite new music without tonight’s conversation bleeding into every word, every movement. I’d wonder if he was resentful that I left. He’d wonder if I even cared about what I left behind. I prayed that he was too drunk to remember tonight. If so, I could forget, too. I could push this down where the other things I chose not to remember dwelled in my body. And I was good at keeping secrets.

I decided instantly that I wouldn’t tell Carter about this. He didn’t need any more reasons to reconsider coming with me, so this, too, went deep into my vault. I could examine my feelings later if I wanted to, but for now, it just needed to go away.

“It was hilarious,” Carter said as I realized he had been talking. I forced a smile and a soft laugh, hoping that was the appropriate response to whatever story he told.

“I need to lay down for a minute,” Ethan said dizzily as he settled back down to the grass, closing his eyes.

“Yeah, he’s probably out for the night. Jeff said he had a lot to drink. We should get him out of here. He can crash at my place tonight,” Carter offered. I agreed. “Okay, come on, big guy,” Carter said as he swung Ethan’s arm around his neck and pulled him up. “Little help, babe?” he asked. I grabbed Ethan’s other arm and placed it around my shoulders to help prop him up.

“Ugh,” Ethan groaned, half awake. It felt strange being this close to him, my head under his chin with his arm around my shoulders as Carter and I helped him walk toward the car. Ethan and I had shared probably a million hugs throughout our years of friendship, but this time the closeness felt different, clouded by my wondering if it would be the last time.

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings)
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5/5
An excellent book!
Written by Elyse Jozlin on 7th Jun 2021

This is a beautifully written story. I hope there are more books in the series-I have enjoyed following Andie on her journey!

5/5
So Real and So Impactful
Written by Amazon Customer on 7th Jun 2021

Having worked with survivors of domestic violence and teen dating violence, reading this book brought back all their voices. The author's writing is authentic and serves a purpose of helping survivors feel heard as well as helping friends and family members understand the impact of abuse on someone. It is not just a 'get over it' and be healed, it is a journey. If you or someone you know is living with abuse or has experienced abuse, please reach out and get help. You are never alone.

5/5
Emotional Pride
Written by Amazon Customer on 31st May 2021

Andie once again takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride. But I am so proud of her growth this book. Thank you for a continuation of this story that needs to be read by all teenage girls. #MeToo is not just a movement; it is a societal disease. I appreciate that Andrea’s story is not shying away from how dark & damaging domestic violence & sexual assault really are. Just like book one, this is a MUST read.

5/5
I finished and felt seen
Written by Krystal Hubbard on 31st May 2021

I wish I was a writer so I could give this book the proper eloquent praise it so deserves. Like the first book I couldn’t put it down. For so many moments I was Andrea, at points I was Andie and I’ve even been Cav. I felt this book in my soul. Every survivors journey is their own but this book is just so incredibly true and relevant as the first. It’s so hard to be seen in a world you desperately want and need to be while also trying so hard to never be truly seen. It’s so conflicting to need to be understood and not alone while also wanted to be alone because what would it mean for someone to really see. It’s so important to know you are not alone. The profound journey of Andrea as she finds what being a survivor looks like concludes with reminding the reader that you never really know what the person next to you may be carrying with them. I couldn’t feel more connected to a story unless it was my own and so many times I felt the parallel. I just ... well Wow Christine you’re are just an incredible writer and I see you !

5/5
Incredibly potent, haunting, and important.
Written by kat on 22nd May 2021

I related even more to this book than I did the first - which I already had felt so incredibly close to the characters, especially as a survivor of sexual assault myself. I felt completely immersed in the story and couldn't put it down. This book is so crucial for women, especially young women, and important to understand the after effects of being a survivor and how the pain will populate into other areas of your life (relationships, disorders like OCD, self-destructive/dangerous behaviors) if left without treatment. Just like the other review here put it - I feel SEEN. I related to Andie/Cav on so many levels including the need for validation from relationships and the fear that there was something "wrong" with me or that I somehow believed that I must have deserved what happened to me on some level because I didn't come forward. That fear of being "broken" and that every relationship in my life would eventually realize it and not want to have to deal with it. As a beautiful Fiona Apple lyric once put it "...'Cause I know I'm a mess he don't wanna clean up. I got to fold cause these hands are too shaky to hold - hunger hurts, but starving works, when it costs too much to love". I wish books like this were around when I was younger to help teach the early signs of abusive relationships or to alleviate the idea of needing to become some perfect version of ourselves for love and need to validate that self worth. My heart aches reading this book but brings me so much hope for survivors by normalizing this topic.