What can keep a dream alive?
Before the car accident that changed everything, Samantha Becker was a happy and loved little girl. Ten years later, Sam, now 18, lives under a dark cloud—largely ignored by an alcoholic mother who never recovered from her loss and ruled by an overbearing father who blames Samantha for the family tragedy. And yet, the troubled teenager has a dream that keeps her going, and an extraordinary musical talent that could take her all the way to Julliard…and far beyond.
Following her heart, however, means defying her father, who has his own plans for his daughter’s future. Then, in the wake of another devastating personal catastrophe, her dream is irreparably shattered, and in her pain and anger, Samantha acts out recklessly. But her salvation could come from a most unlikely trio: a handsome college student, a hopeful little boy…and an older neighbor woman whose caring and secrets will change Sam’s world forever.
My Review of Better Than This
Tia Souders gives us a new YA novel that is full of raw emotion and grit in Better Than This.
Samantha Becker lives day to day in a dysfunctional household with a demanding authoritative father and a distant alcoholic mother. The only thing that keeps Samantha sane is her guitar and her music. Sam is a talented rising star with dreams of attending the Juilliard School of Music. Even the members of her band, her closest friends, have no idea that this is the future she longs for and secretly plans. But in one swift moment her dreams are shattered when her father accidently severs her ring finger on her left hand. With her finger goes all of her hopes and dreams of Julliard and ever playing music again.
Unable to cope with the loss of her music and disillusioned with lack of empathy from her friends, Sam in one brief moment makes a bad decision and takes her frustration out on an elderly neighbor’s yard. In lieu of pressing charges for the destruction, June decides to take it out in trade. She is aging and sick and needs help organizing her house and ridding it of unnecessary junk. Sam aggress to the arrangement, if only to get her father off her back, but is angry she has to spend time with the elderly neighbor. June and Samantha were once close and her house a port in the storm when her mother began her drinking. Add to this little arrangement June’s grandson Tad who unbeknownst to Sam is a fan of her music. It’s this relationship between Sam and Tad and his belief in her abilities that gets Sam back to her guitar and music. Determined to play again and prepare for her audition for the biggest day of her life, Sam retrains her fingers and brain to compensate for her loss.
As Samantha gets stronger and begins to visit The Clover again, her band’s hotspot, it would appear that Sam has another fan in Laird Brian, a handsome college student who happens to love her music and believe in her natural talent. As the two become close and develop a relationship, Sam wrestles with her ability to accept unconditional love. As the weeks go by and her audition at Julliard closes in, Laird together with Tad assist Samantha in preparing for the biggest moment in her life. It’s at this juncture that Sam uncovers a secret that will forever change the rest of her life.
I really liked this book. It was packed with raw emotion and at times I felt so flustered for Samantha because she couldn't get a break. At the same time I was also frustrated with Sam because she was often her own worst enemy. She had such musical talent but tended to reject anything or anyone good that came her way. Her friends used her for her abilities, her dad totally ignored her, and her mother was an absentee parent spending most days in a drunken stupor. The only bright spot in her life were her relationships with Tad and Laird, but often kept them at a distance because she felt undeserving of their love. I was so happy when she finally decided that she was worthy of love and made the decision to trust with her heart that good things could happen for her.
I also loved Tad and Laird’s characters. Tad was so sweet and dorky and the way he looked up to Sam tugged at my heart. Laird was my hero as he was honorable, handsome and determined to win Sam’s love and trust. All of the characters in Better Than this were well written and I either liked them or loathed them. My only frustration was I wanted more. This book demands a sequel. I want to know about Sam’s future with Laird and Tad and if her parents ever make amends and show Sam the love she deserves. I also want to know what she does with her music. Is her future all about her career or does she make room for the two people that love her most. I hope to hear more about these characters in the future.
Better Than This by Tia Souders is a great read for those who love YA novels, but it’s also a great book for anyone who loves fiction with heart. It’s the perfect book to help you get through the rest of winter or take you into summer. You will love the characters as much as I did and find yourself cheering for Sam to follow her dreams as well as her heart.
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