Review: Castles on the Sand (Shattered Castles #1) by EM Tippetts


If there’s one thing Madison Lukas understands, it’s pain. The pain she feels when her mother ignores her completely. The pain her best friend endures as her parents starve her as punishment. The pain of a dangerous boy whose mother has to be carried away by law enforcement on a regular basis.

She gets it. She feels the pain of others as if it were her own.

But when a mysterious man claiming to be her long lost brother appears with promises of relieving her suffering, trusting him could reveal more truths than Madison is ready for. Because the truth can hurt, too.

4 stars

When I started reading Castles on the Sand, I thought oh gosh this writing style is not my thing. Em Tippets had kind of a understated style of writing. It's blunt, it's simple, it doesn't sugarcoat anything. I never really know what Madison was feeling as things happen to her. I am more used to descriptions and really knowing what's going on in the hearts and minds of the characters in the story. So the first half was a slow one for me. 

However, halfway through the story, I started to be more invested in it. I can't pinpoint exactly at what point I was hooked, but it just happened. When Alexander was finally getting more page time (and more lines! lol), it certainly picked the pace up for me. 

Mormons and their beliefs were definitely front and center in Castles on the Sand. It didn't bother me that much. It just felt different, but it's mainly because I don't really read books with a religious tilt. The story isn't all about Mormonism though, don't get me wrong! But like I said, it's just not my usual cup of tea that's why it's made an impression on me.

Aside from that, the story also tackled on usual issues teens face in school. Dating in general, dating popular people, bullying, the helplessness of school authorities when kids band together, depression, intimacy and teenage pregnancy.. there were also other things that we get a closer look into like abuse (which is merely implied here, but the consequences are made clear) and discrimination against people with actual and perceived mental and psychological problems.

Romance is not the highlight of this book, too. There are several sweet moments between Madison and Alexander, but they're not wrapped up in shiny, gold paper and packaged along with fireworks and stars-in-her-eyes musings of the heroine. It's all very simple and understated. Even though I'm all for highly-emotional passages and first-person POV's, EM Tippetts's style still worked for me because it all seemed so honest as a result.

The ending just kind of satisfied me. There were things I wished happened differently (spoiler:I would have wished for more groveling from a pair of truly horrible parentsbut it felt that Madison and Alex were as happy as they could be in their circumstances. That brought me satisfaction as a reader, and I don't think that had happened to me before. It was always, "I want it to end this way and that, and if it doesn't then I'm not happy!!! Grr...". I finished the book without that feeling, and that was very refreshing. :)



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