I received a copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
Rowan is on her way to achieving her goals in A Life, Forward, but she begins to fall into her old ways of unhealthy coping. The relationship that she has with Mike is crumbling before her eyes, and with him away at college, it's awkward at times living with his parents. She doesn't feel like she fits into their life and doesn't want to be known as that girl with all the problems.
Knowing her history, Mike was a lot less empathetic in this novel than he was in the first one. I felt like I didn't know the character anymore because the careless way he treated Rowan wasn't the way he would have treated her in the first novel. College changes people but not that much, and I was disappointed with him. He should have been much more sensitive.
With the huge lie Rowan's sister spread in the first novel, I wondered how she could be walking around their small town with absolutely no consequences for her lie? Shouldn't she be the town pariah? But she's going to parties and is still ultra-popular at school. Shouldn't everyone hate her? I wish that had been explored.
I was sad and scared to see Rowan heading back down the path she had just escaped from - feeling alone and overwhelmed. I could empathize with her, knowing what it's like to feel alone even when you're surrounded by people. She isn't an insecure and clingy girlfriend to Mike even after living with open hostility from her family for so many years. He's the person who worked tirelessly to find out what was going on and just happens to also be her boyfriend. They began heading down two different paths, and to me, it was too soon for that to happen.
Shocking secrets are revealed, and after the fallout, I felt like I was dealing with the aftermath just as much as the characters. A Life, Forward is a novel I recommend reading (once you've read the first one of course!) that is emotionally raw and powerful. if you want to understand how someone could cut herself and feel alone in a crowd of people.