I received a copy from the author to read and review in return.
Before I started reading Stepping Stones, I almost knew what I was getting myself into. I cheated a little this time (which I think no reader/book reviewer should do before reading a book) but I sinned, and I might have slightly (and then I mean slightly) taken a little sneaky peak at other reviews written for this book.
Drama was going to be an underlying factor throughout this book, and as I fingered through the pages, I concluded that this book was most definitely full of misery and drama; but it also had way more to it than just that.
Stepping Stones was an intensief read, stepping into the life of Onnaleigh Moore, a 17-year old girl who had a perfect life, but which chapter by chapter started to crumble into pieces and deep black misery. From the first chapter we realise that Onnaleigh in life is emotionally doomed. Her brother dies in a car accident, her mother turns into a crack head through the motions, and her father drowns his misery with hard booze and depression which not even his only daughter can pull him out of.
When her brother, Caleb, brutally dies in a car crash, Onna meets a mysterious, green-eyed beautiful Italian boy named Everett, who pops into her life as sudden and quick as the development of their highly emotional and passionate relationship. Onna, the character that she is, is weary and doubtful that such a beautiful human would have eyes for her. But as unexpected as it may be for Onna (and perhaps as predicable as it may have been for the reader), Onna and Everett's relationship turns into a complex, dramatic and impossible nature, and may be more meaningful and important for Onna than she may have initially thought.
Everett nurtures Onna through the rough times she goes through, and the timing of his arrival into her life may be all too coincidental. This mystery was kept a secret from the reader until the end of the book, captivating me completely!
I must say, my favourite thing about this book were the characters. I do have my preferences, but my strong predilection focused mainly on Onna's best friend, Hunter. Hunter is a brilliant character, possessing all the warmth a friend could ever hope for in a best friend, combined with having an awesome sarcastic humor, lighting up even the most unnerving and darkest happenings in Onna's life.
I wasn't too sure about my opinion towards Onna and Everett. Obviously with Onna having been through hell and back, it is obvious for her to be withdrawing, self-conscious, gloomy and hesitant, but even in the slightest happier moments in the book, I found Onna to be tediously complicated and miserable. I am the first to say that this has much to do with my slight (and secret) dislike towards all-drama genres; but in combination with Everett's mysterious, holding back mannerism... the combination of them two and their relationship grew lightly tired on me.
None the less, Stepping Stones was written in an immaculate and fast-paced reading style. Ms. Vanderkarr is extremely talented in engulfing the reader with emotions and into a somber, and (thankfully) also occasionally humorous, ambiance. Ms. Vanderkarr has a talent for Young Adult genre, and through it, it definitely kept me on the edge of my couch, anxiously waiting to read what mystery and darkness Onna would land herself into next.
The book ends with big questions marks for Onna, Everett and even her best friend Hunter's future; and there are many exciting speculations of even more mystery for the second book of this series to deliver next. I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of Onna's story very soon!