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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fighting Silence (On the Ropes #1) [Till & Eliza] by Aly Martinez

WOW, this was angsty as hell but was worth every second of it! This book was SO engaging, I was hooked from the start. Eliza Reynolds and Till Page have known each other since they were 13. Almost ten years later nothing and everything has changed. What they feel for one another was never the question, it was will they take the leap into romantic relationship instead of settling for "just friends". They mean the world to one another and yet risking Eliza's friendship is something Till is too scared to do. Besides his brothers (Flint and Quarry), Eliza is the most important person in his life and actually, she is important almost just as much to his younger brothers. 

Both Eliza and Till have a difficult life growing up. We follow their journey from the day they first met, in an abandoned apartment which became soon "theirs". They spent a few hours of each day in this apartment, building a special friendship between them. They are different in the outside world. Till barely even acknowledges her when they are together at school, but in their fantasy world they are everything to one another. They share together the sad moments of their life on the outside - Eliza's parents who couldn't care less about her, Till's parents are even worse, making Till work to support them so they could have a roof over their heads. He truly cares for his 2 younger brothers but he seems to be the only one. Their father is never around and their mother always have something else to do that actually take care of her kids. Yet they also share a lot of good times, laughing together and enjoying the heaven they build together. 

It was truly heart breaking seeing the two of them (or actually all 5) struggle to find their place in this world when no one seems to really care about them. Things change when "On the Ropes" a boxing gym is opened by the former boxing champion Slate Andrews. Slate opens up an "free" membership for kids, the "payment" is hard work. Every job done at the gym gets the kid hours of practice. Till JUMPS at the opportunity and as the years go by, Slate becomes a father figure to Till (and his two younger brother who follow Till when they are old enough to partake in the program). Slate relationship with the Page kids was simply endearing. Yeah he was hard on them at times, but it was always because he believed he was doing the right thing for them (and he was!). He has a heart of gold. He is the one who gave Till a future in general and specifically in boxing, enabling him to not just work to survive but make a living he can do more than struggle with. It took years, years of struggle of all five, leaning on one another until they could find a break and it was SO worth it. 

I'm skipping a lot of things that happened, what I liked about this story is the fact it brought us the whole story yet it wasn't too overwhelming with details of everyday life and we still got their whole life story, about ten years of Till and Eliza trying to build themselves a future together. 

Eliza is such an admirable woman! She's strong yet so very sensitive. Even though life has been difficult for her she made the decision to FIGHT, for herself but also for Till, her relationship with him, what he was willing to give (even though she wanted more), and of course her close and loving relationship with his younger brothers. In a way she was a mother to them even though she never had a loving mother herself. She took what life have given her and made so much more out of herself. She knows how to stand up to herself, both in the "real world" as well as in front of Till who can be quite difficult.. stubborn, controlling alpha.. She doesn't take his shit. She knows herself enough, she knows HIM enough. Yet she WAS extremely frustrated with how much Till wasn't allowing himself to commit to her and from her point of view it was just bullshit! There was a time they literally lived together as a family, almost a married couple and yet still he struggled not to take more than he should so he won't lose her if things doesn't work out between them. 

All that being said without addressing the name of this book and it's meaning.. Till is losing his hearing. It's something he refers to in his thoughts mostly but there comes a time when he needs to face reality and the changes in his life due to his hearing impairment. It was heart breaking as all of his difficulties were. I could see how much it affected him, how he sees himself and what it would mean to be truly deaf to the world one day. I was heart broken by the whole thing. In a way Till is a selfless guy. Everything he does in life is for others. He loves Eliza and his brothers and all he wants is to give them a better future even though he isn't sure how, and isn't sure if he can actually do what his heart wishes for them. He was a sweet heart! Naturally with an alpha aggressive part as befitting a boxer I guess :) But though I usually dislike the alpha behavior I found his to be mostly endearing, maybe because Eliza didn't always play along and he didn't "keep the act" just so he could feel the alpha. He just feels responsible and I guess it goes together with "bossiness".  

There is so much to this story, to their struggle, their unconditional love in a world where everything offered to them IS conditional. Eliza and Till together were MAGIC. They could and in a way did conquer the world. They made a life together, 'raising two kids', barely having enough to pay the rent or pay for a decent meal and yet they did it all with love shining in their eyes - to one another and to the family they worked hard to keep. 

I think I'm going to stop here because I could go on forever and I'll never truly capture this book with it's beauty. I'll just say I can't wait to delve into the next one which is Flint's story (the middle brother). The book ends with a sort of "cliffhanger" concerning him. I don't even know what to feel with the rush of everything that happened in the last few chapters.. even though it was beautifully resolved for Eliza and Till it's obvious Flint is going through HELL and I really don't know how it would or can work out for him :( That was even more heart breaking than Till's situation.. and it seems Quarry (the youngest brother) was highly affected by the ordeal himself which makes sense.. ~sigh~ My heart hurts. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. HIGH on angst but all in all beautiful beyond words. 

I bought this book in a book-set containing all three novels. 

Here's my summary of the series (with links to individual reviews)

Read on:
17-18 Apr-2017

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