Powerful, poignant, heartbreaking, heartwarming and moving. Vain by Fisher Amelie had me bawling my eyes out but loving every second of it. It was so different! It is classified as YA, so your teens should absolutely read it…but it’s for ANYONE. I bought this book because all I saw were 5 star reviews popping up in my goodreads newsfeed. I knew NOTHING about it, didn’t even read the blurb, just used the lovely Amazon 1-click, and poof! I was reading it.
I have to tell you, this review will be filled with quotes (I highlighted half the book) because Fisher Amelie has said it so much better than I ever can.
It started with a totally spoiled, manipulative, leader of the disgustingly filthy rich socialites, Sophie Price. I don’t mean rich like that million dollar house down the road and a BMW at 16, I mean $20,000 a month allowance rich.
“I’m one of the beautiful people… I’m beautiful, and it’s not because I have a healthy dose of self esteem, though I have plenty of that. It’s obvious in the way I look in the mirror, yes, but even more obvious in the way everyone treats me. I rule this roost because I’m the most wanted by all the guys, and all the girls want to be my friend because of it.”
“My goal in life was to rule my tiny, elite world, so I did. I manipulated, used, disrespected and took advantage of every person I called friend. I pulled and played with their puppet strings. I was the ultimate puppeteer. I was cruel and unrelenting.”
Sophie was raised by nannies, her parents too busy to care or even pay attention. At 14, Sophie fired her own nanny, and when her parents found out months later, they decided she could raise herself.
Freedom is just that. Absolutely no restrictions. I abandoned myself to every whim I felt. Every want I fulfilled and every desire was quenched. I wanted for nothing.
“Keep appearances, Sophie Price, and I’ll reward you handsomely,” my father said to me starting at fifteen.
Her friends would go to different “holes” each evening. When any of the rich kid’s parents left the country, they would hole-up at their house and do drugs, party and have sex. Until Sophie is caught with coke at a party and arrested….for the second time. Lucklily, or maybe not, her family lawyer, and perhaps Sophie’s closest ally, gets her sentenced to 6 months in Masego, Uganda, to spend time at an orphanage.
This is where the real story began.
From the minute Sophie touched down in Africa, I felt something from the author….and I knew this book was different. Sophie is greeted at the airport by Dingane (din-johnny), who happened to be a drop-dead gorgeous 20 year old who works at the orphanage. She was struck speechless by him, but he doesn’t look at her with awe the way she is used to.
“Yes, I was thinking that you were a spoiled brat who won’t last two seconds here.”
But as she drives around the beauty that is Africa, something stirs in her. But as she drives closer to Masego, she is unprepared for what greets her.
“That’s when I saw them, noticed what Dingane was trying to prepare me for. Children, all ages, missing arms, eyes, parts of their faces, even legs. I held back my gasp and met Dingane’s eyes. They were warm and full of understanding but for the children only. He looked at me sternly and his eyes conveyed what he wanted me to do.
I looked down on them, half-smiling, trying so very hard to look sincere when all I wanted to do was run and lock myself away from their terribly shocking faces. I had never in my life thought humans could endure such physical damage and survive.”
Sophie settles in, but she can’t help but feel this incredible pull to Dingane. She can’t stop obsessing over him, even with everything else around her. Maybe because he’s the first guy to ever reject her, but maybe it’s more.
“Girl, you are the epitome of spoiled. I can smell it in your expensive perfume, in the quality of your ridiculous clothing, in the bracelet wrapped ’round that delicate wrist.” He closed the gap between us and all the air sucked from the room. “You won’t last out here. You’ll stay blind to the environment that surrounds you. You’ll live in your clean, perfect bubble and return to your posh life come six months. You are….you. I know your kind. I’ve seen it all before. You will never wake up. Not really.”
Sophie was up to the challenge. In fact, she knew she was ready before she even made the journey. But she didn’t know how fulfilling it could be. As she sees first hand what is happening she can’t help but want to do more…be more.
I turned my head toward the window and let the tears flow freely, the most I’d ever allowed, and the absolutely only time I’d ever cried and had a genuine right to.
Because I wasn’t crying for myself. I was crying for the innocents.
Maybe you are reading this review now and thinking….this is so not my type of book. I want a romance! This is a romance. A beautiful one. Dingane’s real name is Ian, and perhaps he understands Sophie more than you would expect. He is a heart-throb and a half. He thinks of everyone else but himself, and runs himself ragged caring for the orphanage with the wonderful couple who run it.
How can someone bug the shit out of you so much yet simultaneously cause you to want to know them intimately with your tongue? He was driving me crazy.
It’s my favorite part of my day.”
My eyes opened lazily. “What do you mean?” I whispered.
“When you undo them and run your hand throughout the waves. That’s my favorite part of my day.”
“It’ll be all right,” Ian assured me.
“How do you know?” I asked when he revved the engine.
“I don’t,” he said, “but I’ll protect you.”
And while this love blossoms, your heart just hurts for the children:
“And what is there to be joyful about?”… Another burst of silent tears streamed down.
“Life, Sophie. They still live. They breathe, they love each other, they find joy in the world around them for no other reason than because they are children. They are resiliant. They will always rise above. Always.”
Aaah but there is so much more I want to tell you about this wonderful book. But I want you to experience it for yourself.
…but with extreme suffering, there is extreme happiness. With extreme earth, there is extreme beauty.
- The harsh reality of what is going on in Africa was brutally laid out before you, and done in way that connects.
- The theme of change–that it’s never too late.
- The writing just made you FEEL.
- Somehow this story made you feel hope and happiness, despite all of horrors.
- Sure makes you appreciate what we have, and want to do something more to help.
- I loved all of the characters in Masego.
- The cover. This is the second cover for the book, and it still does nothing for me, and certainly does not reflect the book.
- I highlighted a few too many errors in grammar and spelling, as well as formatting. I often read reverse on my kindle app and there were numerous problems with that.
- I wish the epilogue were longer.
Rating: 5++++ Stars, 1 for Heat
This is a book that has to make it to my best of 2013 list. I know it’s early….but I can’t imagine this one not staying at the top of the heap. This incredibly emotion packed book had everything. Personal growth, a hero to swoon over, romance, action, edge of your seat terror, heartbreaking love, amazing quotes, and an incredible lesson. I can’t imagine anyone not loving this book.
“I’d come to Uganda to fulfill a mandatory sentence but was being fulfilled in a completely unexpected manner and happily, with my full consent. I’d come to help teach these children but instead they were teaching me.”
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