Taming the Beast - Emily Maguire My mom used to say...

...preferably after I had done something irresponsible, like inviting myself into the home of that middle-aged man, who was living alone down the road, just to pet his German shepherd. of course I'd always lose my sense of time and end up getting home after dark. Where I would find my mother in a state, going on about what COULD have happened and that I wasn’t allowed to visit 'That Man' anymore and that she would pay him a visit first thing in the morning to find out why he would invite a 12-year old girl into his house. And that girls my age supposedly knew it all, but anything crazy I could imagine - and mostly couldn’t! - actually existed in this world.

To bottom-line it: I had to be more careful. Of course I thought that was a stoopid and belittling thing to say, so I often just shrugged.

But while reading Taming the Beast, the thought of how it, indeed, could have played out chilled me. And up to a certain point I only knew too well how the troubled heroine in this book, Sarah, must have felt. I know how obsessions can hit you hard at that age, how you can cling to them so desperately and melodramatically. And how 8 years later, the echo of those emotions can still be intense.

OhSarahohSarahohoh...I wish someone would've stolen her away from Mr. Carr, made her hot chocolate and hid her somewhere far away from parents and predators.

"But also", Mr. Carr said. "You could look at it the way I do. If your mother hadn't been so distant and unloving, maybe you wouldn't have been such an easy fuck."

I cannot say that I'm shocked that her teacher seized the opportunity. That's the reality of the world we live in. The fact that he wounded and ravaged her when they resumed their relationship years later slightly nauseated me, but hey, different people, different tastes. And what can you do when two adults are in a destructive relationship? That's their choice. And wasn't he her victim as much as she his?

That doesn't mean that I didn't find it hard to grasp Mr. Carr's attempts at isolating her and breaking her down deliberately. How could this man with two young daughters not take proper care of her? How could he feed this vulnerable girl who handed herself over to him not much else but Scotch and pills and more Scotch and pills?

Some reviewers mentioned how they hated Sarah for continuously making all the wrong decisions. How what happened to Jamie was all her fault, because she didn't allow the good kid to rescue her from that manipulative, abusive fucker

But! Have you never experienced someone sweeping you off your feet so completely, that whether you should give up everything you are is not even an issue that crosses your mind? Especially not when you’re THAT young and vulnerable, insecure and oblivious to what you can become?

I loved the delicate ending. Had feared that Sarah would eventually snap out of it just like that, especially after what happened to one of her friends. I'm grateful for Maguire's subtlety. Her ending is realistic and true to the story, yet full of hope and opportunities.