Sunday, May 29, 2011

FIX ME by Rune Michaels

Leia doesn't remember what it's like to feel safe.  Maybe back before the accident and the death of her parents, but even those memories are scarred by a secret too awful for words.  Even though her aunt tries to provide a safe home, Leia's brother Brian's anger always seems to find her.  Yes, maybe she invites it sometimes, but it seems that she is broken and can't control the impulse to add to her pain.

When Leia accidentally discovers that Brian is a cutter, too, she thinks perhaps this common bond will change his feelings toward her.  However, her heart she knows nothing is likely to change, and when she is confronted by the stranger who claims to know her and her story, she makes a sudden decision to run.

Leia ends up in the only place that offers her peace - the zoo.  Her fascination with elephants leads her there.  Her dreams of the gentle power of the huge animals and their ability to protect as well as destroy, draw her to the elephant enclosure.  After a day spent watching these amazing creatures, Leia is determined to find a way to stay at the zoo indefinitely. 

It takes two days for someone to discover her illegal living arrangements.  Kyle is the son of the zoo director.  He confronts Leia but doesn't learn much about her or the reason for her presence.  He does see her as an answer to his problem - endless chores assigned by his mother as punishment for his habit of hanging with the wrong crowd.  Together, Kyle and Leia form a team.  She helps him with his chores and covers for him so he can escape his mother's supervision, and he keeps quiet about her living in the zoo.

The arrangement is nearly perfect.  Leia is able to spend time up close and personal with the animals she loves in return for food, clothing, and a place where she finally feels safe.  However, like anything too good to be true, she eventually must face her brother and the reality that she doesn't really belong.  When her situation begins to crumble and she must face the memories of her past, she finds she has a tougher skin than she imagined, both literally and figuratively.

Author Rune Michaels paints a stark picture of an abusive family and the devastating toll on its victims.  Readers are sure to sympathize with Leia as they observe her gentle care and appreciation of the animals at the same time as they witness her fear of returning to her broken life.

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