Sunday, February 17, 2019

Book Review: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos

Rat Park
Dominic has lived with an empty ache inside him for as long as he could remember. Maybe it started when he was six, hiding beneath his blankets as the wild animal noises of one of mom’s parties echoed in his head. Maybe it began the first time an adult plied him with drinks just to watch him stumble about.

Or, maybe, it was that he couldn’t even imagine what being loved should feel like. 

Drugs washed all that away. It didn’t cure the ache, but it made him forget it for a while. Anything was better than being conscious. Than being himself. But life had another hard lesson for him: With drugs, the only way is down.
Dominic hits rock bottom when he’s twenty-three. Turns out, rock bottom looks a lot like the bars of a jail cell. With little left but his own thoughts, Dominic has to decide: Is this what I want for the rest of my life? 

The world has never been kind to Dominic, but when he meets the Romeros, he wonders if that is about to change. Officer Catalina Romero seems to see something in Dominic that he is sure isn’t there. The more she pulls him towards her family, however, the harder it is not to go. 

All his resistance disappears under the force that is Flor Romero. Spitfire, stubborn Flor—even at sixteen, he refuses to be taken lightly. As he grows older, putting a stop to what Flor obviously wants to happen between them is harder than Dominic would ever want to admit. 

Dominic knows that he has too many demons to let anybody get too close. But life doesn’t prepare him for Flor, who just might be ready to fight tooth and nail for a place in Dominic’s life—and his heart. 

The question is, will Dominic’s past keep him from his future?

Todd's rating:

While not super-angsty, I still wouldn't describe this addiction story as an easy read.

We first met Dominic at an early age, and seeing the level of maternal neglect and how his young life took one wrong turn after another, Lord, yeah, not exactly uplifting.

Yet, ironically, it was a byproduct of landing in prison for drug trafficking that eventually saved Dominic's life, finally turning it around for the better.

I loved Kat, Esteban, and Flor, a local family who saw something "more" in Dominic, took him under their loving, caring wings, and not only helped him learn to battle his drug addiction, but actually grow into the person he should have always been, had he been born into different, less impossible circumstances.

There were tons of touching parts of this book, but I do have to admit that, at 377 (reported) pages, the story "felt" long and kind of dragged towards the middle, so a bit of editing may have helped in that respect.

But I wouldn't have cut a single word while Flor was on the scene. He was a complete spitfire, working his way deeply into Dominic's life and heart, which I adored beyond belief. He also made me laugh a lot.

Flor made his attraction known pretty early on, but other than being together once when Flor was 18, just before going off to college, the MC's weren't together for a few years after that.

They were with other people during that time, although not seriously, which might be a deal breaker for some readers, but wasn't much of an issue for me.

The on-page steam was there (and hot), but not oppressively so, then when they finally decided to give their relationship a go, there were tons of genuine feels.

Upon arriving at the last few years of Flor's medical school courses, Jesus, the author must've slipped into her Nike cross-fits, because I'm telling you, the pacing of the story felt like an all-out RUN for the finish line.

One constant niggle that I had throughout the story was the fact that the book flat-out refused to divulge any location details as to where the story was taking place. Even that it was for sure in the USA, let alone any specific CITY. That was annoying.

Another more slight niggle was that, although it 'seemed' that the story probably (?) took place in America, there were very non-US words, phrasing choices, and spellings littered about. Knowing the story's location may have helped me better reconcile those.

I'd rate this touching, somewhat long-feeling story at around 3.75 stars and recommend it to those looking for something deeper than a cotton candy, filler read.

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