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Full of emotion and sensitivity, this book is well written and hard to put down

There are two, if not three, sorts of wake; I thought this would be about Leah's funeral wake but I was wrong. This is the wake that a thoughtless teenager leaves behind her for her loving family to suffer and gape at when she lives life as she wants without a responsible thought for anybody else.

Leah is a beautiful and talented schoolgirl in her final year before university with everything to work and live for. But with a drug taking/dealing boyfriend who she dotes on, cigarettes (or rather spliffs), hard drugs and bunking off to take her mind off real life, Leah falls into a trap of her version of `grown up' life versus a boring but loving family and home. Parents and grand-parents the world over (or is it just the western world ?) will be cringing on their sofas reading of teenagers living their own lives, making the very same mistakes that they and their parents made but having no real control over how to run their children's lives without alienating them into the bargain.

Leah's younger twelve year old sister, Justine, is totally devoted to Leah, to the point that Miss Justine Goody-goody A * +' tries to emulate her sister by smoking, only half-heartedly does her schoolwork and even joins Leah when she runs away from home. There are financial stresses and strains between the two girls parents', Zoe and Will, with Will working away from home and having the opportunity of the beginnings of an affair which I'm sure he would have started if only the other woman had picked up the phone. Zoe is also on the brink of an illicit friendship with the policeman involved with Leah's several scuffs with the police. The ending is excellent - I was expecting possibly the death of Leah or split of the parents but the way it ends is very very touching.

This is a very moving and, at times, heartbreaking story which will be loved by many, whether they be parents or not - I am not. It's a well paced book with never a dull moment and I would recommend to all who love a good contemporary fictional read.
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on 14 September 2011
Terri Giuliano Long paints a thoroughly believable portrait of a "perfect" family suddenly finding itself falling apart at the seams. When Leah, the previously high-achieving model daughter starts to rebel, the stress of her teenage rebellion upsets the family's already fragile equilibrium, revealing buried resentments and highlighting their inability to communicate with each other.

The book alternates between the point of view of each of the four family members (along with one other character), and this approach works well in that it allows us to get inside their heads, leaving little room for doubt as to where they're coming from. All four of the Tyler family members are well-developed as characters, full of human insecurity and stubbornness. The author does a good job showing how even the most well-meaning people have a tendency to hurt the ones they love the most, and we see each of the characters in turn, including wayward daughter Leah, desperate to make things right, but not knowing how, and being afraid to make the first move for fear of rejection.

The family relationships painted by the author are painfully recognizable; the father so incapable of seeing beyond his daughter's dubious choice of boyfriend that he risks alienating her altogether. The younger daughter doing her best to hold her family together, but finding herself becoming increasingly invisible as her older sibling goes further and further off the rails. The mother, wondering what the hell happened to her life and her family when she wasn't looking. And at the center of the mess, the older daughter desperately seeking some way to prove herself to be "unique", checking off every clichéed box on the bingo card of teenage "rebellion" (smoking, drinking, drugs, sex) as she does so. Demonstrating her individuality with musical tastes that flip-flop daily from one million-selling "alternative" act to the next as she tries to figure out who she is. Ditching the one thing she truly excels at, soccer (now uncool, tainted for her by the need to follow rules and its association with her pushy father), in favor of hazy ideas of becoming a rockstar. For all that, even at her worst-behaved and most ungrateful, there is something likeable about Leah, and as a reader I couldn't help but sympathize with her as she longs to make things right, believing that it's too late and she's burnt all her bridges with the people who really matter to her.

This brings me onto the one area where the story fell down for me a little: the "God stuff". I had a nagging worry throughout the book that I might suddenly find myself ambushed by an evangelical message, something that I've experienced on more than one occasion with some of the self-published books I've read and will admit I'm super-sensitive to as a result. Happily, that was NOT the case here (at least, not the blunt-object-over-the-head approach I was wary of), but the way the book ended and Justine's repeated contemplations of "what it means to be a part of God's family" and suchlike felt a little out of place for me, as I was more interested in reading about the dynamics between the family members themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was reluctant to put it down once I'd started; it was an easy read that I got through in a couple of evenings. The story continually made me think; more than once, I'd find myself infuriated at the stubbornness of the characters in their interactions with each other, while recognizing that I'm guilty of the same behaviour myself at times! For anyone who thinks the synopsis sounds appealing, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book. Terri Giuliano Long is a talented writer, and I'm looking forward to finding out what she has up her sleeve for the future.
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on 8 April 2011
Teri Long is an amazing writer! Her description and character development really pulled me in and I think it's a must read for anyone raising teenagers today.

There are so many demands on young people today to be perfect. A teen could easily identify with Leah and the pressures she felt, and hopefully learn from her mistakes.

I even loved the choice of music which furthered the reader's insight into the characters. Terri has an incredible talent for making her characters sympathetic even when they are not on their best behavior.

Although there were times this family seemed to be absolutely falling apart, what truly saved them was ultimately the love they had for one another. I think Terri captured the love the sister's Justine and Leah had for one another so poetically. There were times Justine was the invisible member of the family. It's always the child in crisis who receives most of the parents' attention. But when resentment seemed to be creeping in on Justine, she just seemed to want to protect and love Leah even more. Sisterly love in it's purest form.

I for one am looking forward to Terri's next book!
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on 14 May 2012
In Leah's Wake reads like an early Jodi Picoult novel - there's a similar unfolding emotional saga, alternating perspectives between different family members and the strange, nagging feeling that you're not really sure who you're meant to be rooting for. It has a very 'what would you do?' type theme, as Will and Zoe attempt to reign in their rebellious teenager, although I suspect my zero-tolerance, Nazi-esque ideals of parenthood may be slightly over-dramatic.

From the title, I figured that it would be a story revolving around the death of a daughter and the aftermath, taking 'wake' to mean 'funeral.' But apparently not - instead it refers to the trail of destruction and heartache that Leah leaves behind her as she continues to do, well, exactly as she pleases.

That was the sticking point for me - I liked the plot, the writing and the dialogue, but I just could not stand Leah herself. I didn't really have difficult teenage years myself (it's true, I was always a model child), so I always want to give recalcitrant adolescents a good kicking. I didn't really have a problem with her rebellion - that is, after all, the point of the book - it was the way she did it that irritated me. She just whined and bitched, and refused to believed that not everybody was out to get her. She's not a bad girl, and that's kind of the underlying concept of the book, but she makes horrendously bad decisions. I know that she's meant to make bad decisions, but I just couldn't get past the overwhelming urge to beat her over the head.

But, like I said, there are five different perspectives, so it's hard to stay annoyed with one character for too long. I particularly liked Justine, Leah's sister, who feels pushed out of the frame because of the drama surrounding her older sibling. She's a confused little thing, constantly torn between her parents and her sister. For me, she was the most 'real-' as her grades slowly decline and she fails to take an interest in anything at all, I really wanted to reach across the pages and help her.

It's a slow-moving story, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the time is devoted to building up three-dimensional characters and creating believable dialogue. I'd have liked to have a few more questions answered in the epilogue, I think, but all-in-all it's a good ending and I finished the book satisfied.

As a long story short, I really enjoyed In Leah's Wake. The build-up of emotion and poetic dialogue creates a wonderful look at the unintentional sadness caused by angry teenagers, although I think perhaps Leah herself could have been less of a caricature of an adolescent.
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on 8 May 2012
MY REVIEW

I was kindly sent this, the latest edition of the book by Terri the author for me to read and review. This is a really well written, deeply moving novel. You could well believe this to be a true story, it is so realistic. Anyone of the following family members will identify with something in this book, be it from the mother, father,daughter or sisters point of view. This book is written with five people telling the story, there are the family members, (Mother)Zoe, (Father) Will, (Eldest Daughter) Leah, (Youngest Daughter) Justine and (Police Officer Johnson) Jerry. I could certainly identify with most of what they described from each of their points of view.
I loved the cover and through reading the book learnt the significance of the swing. Leah had nagged her parents, who had initially said no it was too dangerous etc but Leah continued until they gave in, and that's how the pattern of giving in to Leah began.
The book looks into the marriage of Zoe and Will, their ups and downs and the fact that Will had an affair years ago. I hope I am not giving away major spoilers here its difficult to say a great deal about the book without doing so.
I liked Justine's character the one that kept the home running behind the scenes who tried not to take sides. You really felt for Justine because her parents didn't seem to really see her as they were so caught up in Leah. Then there's the relationship between Leah and Justine, initially Leah dismisses Justine as just a child. Leah uses Justine to cover for her. Then in time leah comes to really see Justine as a person and sort of rely's on her more.
When I first started reading the book, it didn't feel like the story was moving on quick enough for me, but then the book picked up pace more and I was super-glued to it! I think the beginning of the book needs to be slower paced for you to take in the background of the plot and learn something about the characters before things start happening in the book.
The book shows many parenting styles, Zoe's "touchy, feely" style to talk about everything and compromise. Will's Do it my way or the highway type of approach. then theirs Todd's mum who can't see that her son does anything wrong, she will give him anything and everything. Lupo's father who continually bails out his son when he falls foul of the law, but yet doesn't spend time with his son. Who are we to say who is right and who is wrong?
There are lots of issues dealt with in this book, from truancy to drug use, the "wrong boyfriend to running away from home, from bullying to possible divorce.
So did I enjoy this book? Yes! Would I read more by Terri? Yes! would I recommend this book? Yes already have!

Available from Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk £9.83 in Paperback £1.94 on Kindle.
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Another Amazon reviewer recommended this novel and I am so grateful to them .....It really is for anyone that is a parent, as I think that only those that have been through those years will find such close connections in how the whole family deal with Leah's meltdown.

Sister's can be terrible to live with (that I have gathered from our youngest boy). The way in which the author Terri portrays this super novel shows that sisterly love knows no bounds. That family can be there for you even when the self destruct button is pushed.

A book that everyone with a teenager should read ... So up to date with issues that teenagers have to live with and how self destruction seems to be their thing in the world. Leah the main character seems to excel at most things but then comes along that self destruct button, not just affecting her but also the rest of the family.

The author draws the qualities and failings of each of the characters to the forefront, so much so that you believe that you see them in real life.

How do you stop a teenager from running a mock and ruining not only their life but the rest of the families ..... Read the book as you really will not be disappointed.
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on 20 May 2012
Amazon had this at the top of my recomended list for ages, so together with the rave reviews I went ahead and bought it but sadly it wasn`t for me. I couldn`t identify with any of the characters, and moreover found them intensely irritating. I think being british without childen made this a poorer read for me.
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on 24 June 2012
This novel is heavy going, but totally believable and well-written. It deals with a young girl whose family suffer her problems more than she does until late in the story when the balance shifts. I found it quite disturbing and it made me thankful my own daughter is now grown up and came through her teens relatively unscathed! After I'd finished it, I wanted to read something humourous for some light relief - however, for all that, it's a really good read from start to finish.
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on 22 July 2011
This book is as awesome as it gets!
A compelling and brilliantly executed portrayal of the trials and tribulations faced by two teenagers and their family, `In Leah's Wake' is a warm, beautiful and frightening microcosm of modern day family life.

The novel sees a sixteen year old girl abandoning her goal in life- soccer - to adopt a lifestyle of drugs, drink and reckless behaviour. Her relationship with no-good boyfriend Todd leads her down a path of self destruction. This relationship, and the turn Leah's life takes, sees the frustration, hurt, and desperation faced by those around her, when the blindness of love results in Leah's determination to do things her way. Leah, meanwhile, leaves behind her loving, idolising, clever thirteen year old sister, Justine, who, desperate not to lose her sister, attempts to follow in Leah's footsteps. Justine begins to turn her back on everything she stood for in order to protect, love and stand by her sister.
Zoe and Will Tyler, Leah's parents, facing marital problems, health problems and economic problems can do little other than despair.

The brilliance of Terri Long is her ability to draw the reader totally and absolutely into the characters emotions. It is impossible to read this book without sharing the feelings of hurt, worry, love and faith these characters have for each other. Although a tale of trauma, strife and struggle, the tender and gentle nature in which this story is told is testimony to the great talent, awesome skill and beautiful nature of this wonderful writer.

Elizabeth Marshall x
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on 17 March 2014
I couldn't put this book down. However I don't want to give anything away.
The reactions of each family member to predicaments Leah finds herself in, and how they each, including Leah cope with them, shows
the strengths and weaknesses of a family.
An intuitive insight into the growing pains and right of passage that we all have to go through to some degree.
what doesn't kill you....
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