Book Reviews, Books

Book Review: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore

Author: Kelly Fiore (Website | Twitter)
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen

Thicker Than WaterSYNOPSIS

Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes.


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Family tragedy, drug addiction and the mention of Ellen Hopkins’ name are three things that I don’t want to go along together in a book for the sole reason of me knowing that it would break my poor heart into pieces. But hey on the flipside, those are actually the three things that captured my attention and encouraged me to read it. It made me curious if Kelly Fiore will also make my mind spin and cause conflict inside of me, like what Hopkins did to me back when I read Identical.

Well, Fiore did.

For me, Thicker Than Water was a tough read. The book was written through Cecelia Price’s (suspect for her brother’s death) point of view and alternates from the past and present. The situations that Cecelia’s family went through were events that us, real living people experience too. Like someone in the family getting injured, hitting rock bottom, being placed in circumstances where you need to heavily weigh in the decisions that you make in life and ending up doing some sacrifices for our family. Easy right, we all can relate to that. But then enters the drug addiction element of the story which takes it to another level. A level wherein we have an idea of its existence but I think most of us don’t have an experience witnessing someone who has it. Through the numbered pages of this book Fiore made me experience and witness not only one person but an entire family crumble to pieces because of drug addiction. Fiore’s writing gripped my heart and drew me in. She didn’t need those poetic and big words to present us her story; she only needed to slap her readers with what the truth is and let the rawness of everything flow into her writing.

“Regret forces us to relive the moments we hate the most – the moments that drove us into spiralling downfalls, the moments where we stopped living and started surviving.”

Cecelia Price, may be overwhelmed by the events that led to Cyrus’ (her brother) death but there wasn’t a single moment wherein I doubted if Cecelia is in the right frame of mind. She isn’t crazy. She’s honest. She’s guilty. She knows she did something wrong, acknowledges it and knows that she deserves to be punished for it. Actually, I admire her for those things and I do think all of us should aim to be her. Even if she knows that her life and name will be permanently marked by this single event, she didn’t even dare to deny her involvement to it.

Her guilt, regret and honesty are inked through the pages of this book. You can read it. You can feel it.

“You can regret the actions of others. At least, when they’re responsible for your actions. When your actions are just reactions.”

She’s one those of characters in YA novels wherein she is stuck in the middle and whichever option she chooses, she’ll just end up being in the wrong. It was definitely a hard position to be in – just imagine her mind working over time to come up with solutions and decisions but in the end still felt stuck. With everything going on and out of desperation, she ended up doing something wrong but then justifying her action, in favor of what she has done towards Cyrus’ situation. She also thought that it could be a temporary solution to their money problem. What she didn’t know is that, one step in (a wrong and stupid move at that) and she’ll get sucked into the world of drugs.

My heart also goes out to her for feeling that there was a need for her to shoulder all the blame for this tragic event. Not that pointing fingers will do any good but I do think, Cyrus, their father, step-mom and her have their fair share of being at fault in what happened. But most especially I have this rage directed towards their father for turning a blind-eye and filtering what he only wants to see and their step-mom for being so passive and not caring as to what’s becoming and happening to Cyrus. From that enters the what ifs. What if their father acknowledged that something is wrong with Cyrus? What if their father did something to help Cyrus overcome his addiction? What if their step-mom at least tried to be an active member of their family? It’s an endless string of what ifs that could have led to another ending – a happy and better one.

“…feeling inexplicably tattered from the inside out. Or maybe not tattered. Maybe just broken into pieces, with half those pieces missing. My dad. My mom. My brother. All my broken, jagged parts are completely unrecognizable compared to the person I used to be and the family I used to be a member of.”

One big check mark and thumbs up on how Fiore handled the romance department of her book. Yes, there’s romance in this one too and I’m glad and satisfied with it. It was there. It was sweet. It didn’t overpower or take away the focus from what the real conflict (story) is. It came across as something that balances the elements of the story and somewhat an ice-breaker from all the heaviness that drug addiction brought in. I also love the fact that Fiore included two romantic relationships for Cecelia (a past and a present) and showed the differences as to where and how those relationships were rooted.

“I don’t have anything to say that will make you feel any better. I can’t give you anything but me. But, for what it’s worth, you have all of me that’s left.”

Thicker Than Water is a book about guilt, regret, honesty and brings out the message how drug addiction not only endanger one person but everybody that is surrounding him/her. It claws in, roots itself very deep and can eventually tear a whole family apart, just like what happened with Cecelia’s. This is a book that I would gladly recommend to parents to remind them and impose more on how important their role in the family is – with or without drug addiction involved. As to the issue at hand, I think that best way to tackle it is through the italicized words in my what ifs that I’ve enlisted above – acknowledge that there really is a problem, help that person to overcome the addiction and to be an active participant.

“Sometimes we start living lives we never expected to live. Other times we pick up where one life left off. In the end, it’s not about where you came from, but where you’re going.”




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