Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed by Christine Doré Miller

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Sixteen-year-old Andrea Cavanaugh is elated when Josh, a bright-eyed piano prodigy, becomes her first boyfriend. But the closer she gets to him, the more she realizes that he's not the boy she first fell for. In its poignancy and emotional darkness, Forgiven are the Starry-Eyed takes you deep into the delicate and devastating web of shame that spirals from the depths of dating violence when dreamy teenage love turns dark. Andrea must find not only an escape, but a belief that she is even worthy of freedom.

16+ due to sexuality, rape, and adult situations

 

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, or if you have questions about abuse, please call 1-866-331-9474 or visit www.loveisrespect.org


Excerpt:

My eyelids closed as if they were being drawn down by sluggish, unhurried weights. When I forced them open after several seemingly endless moments, nothing had changed. I could still make out a blurry image of Josh standing nearby, Mr. Thompson's hands clenched firmly on Josh's shoulders from behind. There was a crowd, I think, and muffled voices. The steel school locker felt cold against my back and I recognized the familiar feeling that lately seemed to just dwell and ache in my bones. Fear, I think it was, mixed with just enough madness to keep the blood racing through my veins … fast. Too fast.

"Why did you do that, Andrea?" Josh shouted in my direction.

My eyes fell closed again. I don't remember what else he said. I just remember the feeling of each overly pronounced syllable piercing the air while he said it. I stared through the darkness that danced behind my heavy eyelids. What had I done?

I tried to pry open my hazy eyes to examine the faces of the expanding crowd as they stood, mouths agape. I only recognized a few. There were hardcover music books sprawled open on the tile floor at my feet. Confused, I looked to Josh, but the heavy silence of the room deafened any words he may have been saying. I gripped the ends of my soft, thin hair between my slender fingers and waited. Each thought sunk deeper than the last.

There was a poster taped sloppily against the locker behind me. I turned my head to face it and focused. The ends were curled up and there were ripples in the masking tape adorned to the edges. "Oakwood High School Invitational—TONIGHT" it read in handwritten purple block letters. There was a pixelated saxophone image pasted underneath the words, "Brought to you by Mr. Thompson and the Oakwood High Jazz Band." I brought my hand up to trace the edges. The poster board felt crisp and thick under my fingertips. I could smell the aftermath of the permanent marker. The loud reverberating voice behind me got softer until it resembled a deep echo I could easily ignore. I started to pick at the tape from the bottom left corner of the poster until I felt the sticky residue ball up underneath my fingernail.

Suddenly the life reentered my body in one abrupt breath when I felt a strong tug on my arm. I turned and saw Ethan Marks. Everyone else was gone. Had it been minutes this time? Hours?

"Andrea! Come on," he barked at me, interlacing my arm, tucking it quickly under his. He jerked me to a standing position and pulled me down the hall, speeding up his gate as I stumbled to catch up.

"Where's Josh?" I asked worriedly, but he didn't answer. We were silent as we walked through the empty hallway. I lifted my gaze, trying to catch Ethan's eye, trying to read his thoughts. His light blue eyes, usually sparkling with laughter, were steely and somber as he charged forward, dragging me with him, away from the wreckage I'd caused.

He stopped short and took a deep breath. His eyes were unyielding and dismal as they studied me, and slowly his frustration melted into a deep sadness.

"What happened, Andrea? What was that back there?"

"I don't know..." My voice began breaking. My thoughts were muddled beyond recognition and I couldn't form the right words, or any words, to explain.

Ethan wrapped himself around me in a gentle, firm embrace. It felt kind. And warm. And wonderfully different. My muscles unclenched for the first time in months, and I didn't know I was crying until I tasted the salt as it stained my face. I buried my head into Ethan's chest as he tightened his hold on me. I wanted him to say something, to tell me everything would be all right, but we both knew better. So we just stood there, Ethan supporting me as I clasped the back of his cotton t-shirt between my fingers.

After a few minutes, I fully returned to my body as my breathing calmed. I steadied my stance and took a step backward, shakily holding Ethan's forearms as I regained my balance. Wiping smudged mascara from my pale face, I met Ethan's eyes and quickly looked down, fixating on a crack in the tile below me.

"Hey," he started, "Andrea ... it's..."

"I'm okay. Ethan, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you had to ... I'm sorry I ... ugh your shirt." I motioned to the tear stains on his light green tee that crept from his chest to his shoulder.

"Oh God, don't worry about that. Andie, I just..."

"It's fine." I wiped my face and took a deep breath. "Thanks," I said, squeezing Ethan's hand and looking in his eyes sincerely, so he knew I meant it. "I should go. But thanks." I shook my head and turned around to walk back into the havoc and face what I had done. I felt Ethan staring at me as I left. He was just another person whose life would've been better if he hadn't met me. I swallowed, took a breath, and kept walking.

It was over for now, that latest incident, and there was no way to tell when there would be another one … but there would definitely be another one. I was too broken for it to be any other way.

Product Reviews

Score: 5 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings)
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5/5
Totally Booked Blog
Written by Totally Booked Blog on 21st May 2019

‘In my mind, he was a tortured, brilliant artist, and I could be the one who helped him, who figured him out. So it became my mission.’ Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed by Christine Dore Miller has a compelling synopsis and the story captured us immediately, what with its morose and emotional tone. The writing is superb and has an undercurrent of hopelessness and dejection. We are in awe that this is the first book by this debut Author, it was well written and touched on hard-hitting topics. “What happens between us in private stays private. Okay?” This Teen YA story deals with horrifically sensitive and extremely pertinent issues in today’s society. You’ve only got to turn on the news or scroll through social media to find stories like these on an almost regular basis. And those are only the ones we know or hear about or have been publicised. There’s still a dreadful silence and uncomfortable avoidance where topics of relationship abuse, violence, and sexual aggression are concerned. However, with the #metoo campaign, hopefully, awareness and support will be given, become a right and a deterrent. ‘I didn’t cry this time. And I was proud of that. Maybe I was getting better at this. Maybe he would be proud of me too.’ Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed is not an easy read, however, it is an extremely important and a compelling read. The characters are well developed and relevant, their story an honest spotlight on what is sadly real –relationship- life for some, for many, for people we know and don’t know. It just takes that one person to notice, to care and not let go. ‘I smiled back at people who smiled at me, I answered questions when I was called on, but I otherwise just existed. I just took up space, floating through the halls, sitting in desks. And it was…easy, comfortable. And at this point, that felt like a win. Nobody got upset, nobody was worried, nobody was bothered. And that was a very welcome change.’ Whilst this is a fictional story it should be read by every young adult, parent or grandparent. Andrea could be a friend, a daughter or a granddaughter. Her life, in some parts or all, could be that of someone in your life. It is not impossible nor implausible. A healthy relationship is not a given. Sixteen year old, Andrea’s story is emotionally raw, tragic, yet beautiful in its strength and hope as she manoeuvres teenage life, wanting to be accepted and loved. Finding herself. Sometimes the skin within which we live can feel ‘too tight’ in the sense that our emotions, our worries, our pain feels overwhelming and we’re unable to release them. The path of ‘release’ someone choses to breathe, overcome and exist is what matters the most. Our heart broke for Andrea and the path on which she finds relief. However, it’s okay not to accept what you’re forced to live with, it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to say no, no more. I deserve better. I am worth more. ‘I told myself I had very few options now. I could just exist and accept that this was my life from now on. I’d be broken, but at least I’d be alive.’ We feel exhausted after Andrea’s journey and have to admit that whilst we felt like we could breathe at the end with some kind of comfort, we needed more. Perhaps an epilogue, just something. When you go through the ringer you need that extra bright light at the end. We’re so glad we picked this book up. What a read! “I feel like this isn’t real…”I said, closing my eyes tightly. “Open your eyes, beautiful,” he said, his hand stroking my cheek. “This is very, very real.”

5/5
5 stars
Written by Hayden on 12th May 2019

This book should be mandatory reading, for teens, for adults and everyone in between - and I don't say that lightly. The story follows Andrea from the first time she meets Josh, through the duration of their relationship, and very importantly, beyond that. I've never read a book that so clearly and realistically shows how an abusive relationship becomes that, and also how messy and difficult it can be even after it's supposed to be over. When we read a story, we expect an ending that has a clear final event, and this book excels in keeping the story realistic and not doing that. There is much more to abuse than most stories would have us know and it's brilliant that this book exists to show the raw truth of it - from the fairly innocuous beginning to the bitter end. The writing is beautiful throughout, Miller definitely has a way with words, in the best possible way. The dialogue is well-written and realistic, as is the narration by Andrea. Her thoughts are well-explained and relatable throughout. Although it would be easy to paint Josh as a monster, and truly he is, there are some wonderful insights into his character that show it isn't necessarily as simple as that. Even as monstrous as he is though, there's a high chance everyone who reads this (and to re-iterate, that should be everyone) will recognise Josh as someone they know. Maybe he's your best friend's boyfriend that you just can't warn he off enough, a friend that you know doesn't treat their loved ones well, or maybe he's your ex-boyfriend and you managed to break free. This isn't an easy read. At times I felt like I could read it in one sitting, but I couldn't handle it. At times frustrating, anger-inducing, terrifying, upsetting, and always very real. There is always hope though, which is important. It has a perfect balance so that just when you think it's too dark, there is some light, somewhere.

5/5
Tome Tender
Written by Tome Tender on 9th May 2019

Andrea is that teen who doesn’t get into trouble, is pretty much “wash and wear,” an uninvolved parent’s dream, the girl who gives no one any problems, therefore is overlooked by those who should be watching for “changes.” She was also ill-equipped to know where to turn, who to turn to and how to speak up for herself, she is a teen drowning in trouble. Christine Dore Miller’s FORGIVEN ARE THE STARRY-EYED will gut you, bring out your rage and hopefully open some eyes and hearts. Andrea is a victim of parents who are uninvolved, friends who betray her, peer pressure and her own emotional immaturity and insecurities and she fell for a predator and lost what little self-esteem she had. Josh is a mentally twisted predator and he uses his power over Andrea to quickly tear down her heart and ravage her soul, as well as her body. She gave him the power to control her, because she was never provided with the tools or the strength and support to say stop. This author has brilliantly told a tale of pain as seen through the eyes of Andrea, a sixteen-year-old girl. Readers will see that many details are left foggy, underdeveloped, but that Andrea stands in stark relief, after all, we are looking through Andrea’s eyes. Be prepared to be in uncomfortable, guilty disbelief. Be prepared to rage and to realize that the system, her family, all of us let her down. Posters do not work, billboards will not work, handouts piled on a desk will not work, people shaking their heads will not work…action works and if action or “getting involved” works for just one person, it is a start. But always start by looking at your own world and never be afraid to reach out to someone who may be screaming inside for help. And let's not forget about those who let Josh down, too. A must read for anyone who knows how to read. Share it, talk about it and make a difference. Thank you Christine Dore Miller for one of the most powerful reads I have ever seen. I was invited to read complimentary ARC edition from Evernight Teen! This is my honest review.

5/5
A must read!
Written by Mary on 6th May 2019

A deep and beautiful, if emotionally difficult, read. This topic isn’t discussed often, and it needs to be. Well-developed, believable characters depict how dating violence can sneak up on you, and how shame can overcome you over time. A riveting book.

5/5
Masterfully written truth
Written by Kerri on 6th May 2019

Must read for teens, high school teachers, psychologists, counselors and coaches.

5/5
A great read
Written by Nina on 6th May 2019

I loved the book. It was so well written and easy flowing. I look forward to her next book

5/5
Harassment and bullying are unacceptable-and very unhealthy!
Written by Deborah V. Dore on 6th May 2019

Very well written- and probably a good read for teenage kids- both girls and boys! I did not grow with these problems, but I’m gathering this occurs often- again by both boys and also by girls! READ IT!

5/5
Must read for young people starting to date!
Written by Cynthia on 6th May 2019

This book is so awesome and well written. I wish young adults would read this and know they are not alone and can get help with abusive relationships. Kudos to the author!

5/5
A must-read for teenagers, parents, educators, and anyone looking for a fantastic, meaningful book.
Written by AmazonCustomer146 on 1st May 2019

This novel is truly one that I could not put down until I read the very last word. In the first chapter, I was immediately swept up into the confused and shattered world of teen Andrea Cavanaugh, a high school student trapped in an abusive relationship. The danger of the situation unfolds to both Andrea and the reader, with the turn of each page - I felt as if I was experiencing every emotional high and low as she went through it all. This author should be commended for pulling no punches in tackling the very difficult yet critical subjects of dating violence and teen sexual abuse, The story is raw and emotional, but never unrealistic. All of the characters, both major and minor, are well fleshed-out and definitely relatable to persons of a similar age, as well as an older audience. The story itself is at times dark and devastating, but always captivating and entertaining. And, in the end, hopeful. I have a young son and daughter, and this is a book I will definitely give them to read when they are of age. For my daughter to know that when horrible things like this happen to a young woman, it is not their fault and they should not feel ashamed or afraid to seek help. And for my son to understand that there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever for a man to treat a woman like Andrea’s despicable boyfriend treated her. In our world today, a number of sexual predators in powerful roles are finally being exposed and prosecuted for what they’ve done. But far too many are still getting away with it. The education and awareness need to start with the youth because that’s when most of the abusing starts. This book should be in every high school library. It could be an extremely useful tool to help parents and teachers talk about the issues of dating violence and sexual abuse with their teenagers. Ms. Miller has a true gift for impactful storytelling, and I look forward to seeing more from her. Highly recommended for young adults and older readers alike.

5/5
Needs to be read!
Written by Amazon Customer on 1st May 2019

As a retired English teacher, Christine’s brutal truth about abusive relationships needs to be read by parents and their junior and senior school students. It is a difficult read, but it is a topic that needs to be discussed, and parents need to know this really does happen.

5/5
Please read!
Written by Emily on 1st May 2019

Even though I was exhausted, I stayed up for hours reading Forgiven are the Starry-Eyed. I am now in my thirties, but the book transported me back to my vulnerable teenage years. I recommend this book for all, teenage and some of us that are a little older. It brings alive the emotional, physical and sexual abuse that young women face.

5/5
Beautifully written page turner with invaluable relatability and resources for young readers.
Written by Natalie M on 1st May 2019

A heartbreaking, honest depiction of dating violence. The book gives teens, young adults, and adults a like the words, tools, and resources they can access when going through a relatable experience. Such a beautifully written, brave story. I couldnt put it down and finished it in one sitting!

5/5
I just couldn’t put it down
Written by Krystal Hubbard on 1st May 2019

I’ve just finished reading and I have tears forming for what I’ve just read, it’s a book so real and so relevant, written in such a way that left me riveted. I’ve lived Andrea’s life and I’m left speechless with the accuracy feelings are depicted and I’m hopeful for the awareness and hope this book can bring.

5/5
Speaks to young adults on a real level
Written by Kat on 1st May 2019

Loved this book. Really felt like it was super relatable and touches on issues that teens deal with and will feel understood when reading this. Characters were well developed and it was very easy to read. Recommend!

5/5
5 stars
Written by Brittany Smith on 26th Apr 2019

Andie is a sweet and under the radar kind of girl. She has a small group of friends that do everything together and she knows her place in the world. One day a new boy transfers to her school and changes everything. Josh and Andie start dating and it’s great for a couple months but then she starts to see some changes. It’ll take everything she has to fight this change and come out if it in one piece. Let me start off by saying that this book is not for the faint hearted and it is very heavy in nature. Saying that I have to commend the author for writing this book and sharing his story with the world. The attention to detail from the most minor thing, like the colour of a cardigan, to the most explosive scenes is impeccable. You really get a sense of who these people are and you are pulled along in their life stories. Andie is the girl you root for and wish the best for so it does break your heart to see her struggle through. Josh’s personality is infectious at first and the switch happens so seamlessly. The whole character grouping from the MCs to the “supporting staff” are filled out very well and you can imagine your own friends in their places. We are not given a clean ending that has the answers all wrapped up but it does provide an insight as well as hope. This book does have a lot of triggers; manipulation, self harm, abuse-both verbal and mental and rape. It’s not a light and fluffy read but it’s an important read! I implore anyone who has found themselves in this situation to reach out and talk to someone. Help can come to us in the most random of places so don’t give up. Again, well done to the author, Christine Doré Miller.

5/5
My Friends Are Books
Written by Eva on 26th Apr 2019

An emotional rollercoaster that pushes you to feel. Andie is a sweet and under the radar kind of girl. She has a small group of friends that do everything together and she knows her place in the world. One day a new boy transfers to her school and changes everything. Josh and Andie start dating and it’s great for a couple months but then she starts to see some changes. It’ll take everything she has to fight this change and come out if it in one piece. Let me start off by saying that this book is not for the faint hearted and it is very heavy in nature. Saying that I have to commend the author for writing this book and sharing this story with the world. When I was reading the book I had the feeling of it happening in front of me. The attention to detail from the most minor thing, like the colour of a cardigan, to the most explosive scenes is impeccable. It plays out for the reader so effortlessly that I have to credit the writing style for being so natural. You really get a sense of who these people are and you are pulled along in their life stories. Andie is the girl you root for and wish the best for so it does break your heart to see her struggle through. Josh’s personality is infectious at first and the switch happens so seamlessly. The whole character grouping from the MCs to the “supporting staff” are filled out very well and you can imagine your own friends in their places. We are not given a clean ending that has the answers all wrapped up but it does provide an insight as well as hope. Report this ad This book does have a lot of triggers; manipulation, self harm, abuse-both verbal and mental and rape. It’s not a light and fluffy read but it’s an important read! I implore anyone who has found themselves in this situation to reach out and talk to someone. Help can come to us in the most random of places so don’t give up. Again, well done to the author, Christine Doré Miller.