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If You StayReview - If You Stay
Beautifully Broken #1
by Courtney Cole
Hachette Audio, 2013
Review by Christian Perring
Jun 10th 2014 (Volume 18, Issue 24)

According to her author page on Amazon, Courtney Cole has published about 18 books in the last 3 years.  If You Stay is the first in a series of Cole's called "Beautifully Broken."  The theme is relationship between beautiful young women and hot bad boys who have had troubled childhoods.  These are romance novels with strong psychological themes.  Amazon readers give this book positive feedback: currently 680 reviews, with over 4 stars.  It is no surprise that dreck can be popular -- but it is interesting that this swiftly written, poorly researched novel is so liked by its readers.  The plot is simple enough.  At the start of the story, Pax Tate is 24, sitting in his car in a parking lot getting oral sex from a woman in exchange for giving her drugs.  He overdoses and is rescued by Mila Hill, a hot young woman of about the same age.  Pax is a habitual drug user without a job, living off his trust fund.  Mila is good-natured and loving, but she is bored by most men.  She is immediately drawn to Pax despite his drug use.  Both of them have suffered losses early on.  Pax lost his mother when he was 7, and she lost both her parents in a car accident when she was young.  As the two twenty-somethings become involved, they encounter many troubles and Pax gives Mila a hard time, but she helps him understand the source of his psychological problems.  Through therapy and hypnosis, Pax comes to remember the past trauma that caused him to use drugs and alcohol to numb himself and to understand why he treats others so badly: he thinks he does not deserve love.  Eventually true love wins out. 

The psychology in the book is silly: the portrayal of recovered memories is like something from a B-movie.  Modern research on hypnosis shows that its use as a method of recalling trauma is full of problems. More interesting is the idea that although Pax is a frequent drug user, he is not an addict.  He insists on this, and when he gets serious with Mila, he throws his drugs down the toilet and stops relying on them.  That's different from the usual ways that heavy drug use gets portrayed. 

The writing is full of cliché and occasionally misuses words, but it is lively.  The unabridged audiobook is performed by Loretta Rawlins and Nicholas Tecosky who get into the spirit of the novel, and manage the explicit sexual descriptions well, conveying passion without becoming too breathy.  Alternate chapters are narrated by Pax and Mila, and the performers take turns with each. 

 

© 2014 Christian Perring

 

Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York

 

 


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