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Reading is my drug. I love to get lost in a great book to escape into worlds that are usually much cooler than mine! >.<

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Sacred - Elana K. Arnold A contemporary with a hint of paranormal, Sacred is a story with a lot of grief and pain, but also hope and acceptance. Having lost her brother suddenly, Scarlett is left with a broken family and an emptiness nothing can even begin to fill. Grief over her brother's death begins as the main topic of this novel. We get a very realistic portrayal of a family broken by pain, by a missing entity. I thought this was very heartbreaking. You can see that Scarlett really wants, needs, her family back. She yearns for what she sees her friends have as a home life when she visits, a house that is not dark and desolate. Having no one else to turn to, Scarlett uses horse riding, along with self punishment as a way to cope. This too was also very emotional and made me feel incredibly sad for her situation. Even she knows she has a problem, she wants to get better and move on, but the unending grief is making this incredibly hard. Then she meets a boy--Will. At first the love interest annoyed me. He was the typical stalker guy who's always there when he's not wanted, and seemed a little too pushy. After a while though we come to understand the reason behind his actions. I can't say I ever grew to like him exactly, but I stopped being hateful towards him at least. He also harbours a secret that starts out intriguing but fizzles out into a less interesting (at least to me) direction than I was expecting--more on this in a bit. Their relationship starts out a little rocky, but then he becomes sort of her rock. He's a real gentlemanly type of guy that I found perfect for just this purpose. However, the romance they developed was a bit lacking. I wouldn't say it's insta-lovey, or even unrealistic, I just didn't see any sparks between them, really. In turn, the passion and chemistry was missing from the story, leaving the romance a little plain. The plot mostly consists of Scarlett moving on from her brother's death. There is also a paranormal/spiritual element added to it, and it's explained with religious faith and belief. So yes there's a religious aspect to the novel, especially deeper during the last part, to which I didn't particularly care for. I think those who enjoy religious lore--Kabalah, Tzaddikim, gifts and abilities brought on by Jewish legends, etc (Will's father is a Rabbi, too, hence where it all comes from)--would find a lot of this fascinating, but it just rolled off of me. Religion aside, the rest of the story is an emotion filled tale of sorrow and loss that I found really quite potent. You could say there's two sides of this story, one religious, and the other raw contemporary. I enjoyed the latter much more. A solid story of the loss of a loved one, Elana took Sacred, the seemingly usual contemporary, into a path that combines religion and spiritualism to create an affectingly unique YA novel. If religious tones are not something you shy away from in books I can see you becoming a fan of this one.--A copy was provided by the publisher for review.For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads