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.
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
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.
Must read for teens, high school teachers, psychologists, counselors and coaches.
I loved the book. It was so well written and easy flowing. I look forward to her next book
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.