I would like to echo the sentiments of the other reviewers here regarding how engrossing and riveting this book is. I was immediately drawn into the story by Debra Borys’ deft handling of the drama and the raw, gritty dialogue. She’s got a knack for capturing the futility of life as revealed in the characters struggling with their own demons and hardships. This is some powerful writing.
Although the story of Bend Me, Shape Me is an engrossing thriller and a satisfying read for that reason alone, what I found most interesting was the light it shines on the issues faced by homeless kids. Sure, the book has the normal disclaimers about not being about real people, and I believe that. But prominent in the author’s bio is her experience working with organizations that help such kids. I’ve got to believe the issues, experiences, and difficulties of runaways and throwaways are depicted accurately, even though the specific personalities and characteristics of the kids in the story are made up.
While I have been extremely pleased by all the positive reviews Bend Me, Shape Me has received, I have been waiting anxiously for the first unsolicited review to be written by someone who was neither a friend nor a professional reviewer first contacted by me. Someone purely a reader/fan, in other words. Today, it happened.
Not only is Sheri Wilkinson a prolific Amazon reviewer (a Top Reviewer Ranking of 7,354 is nothing to sneeze at!) but her profile states she is from Princeton, IL which I consider my home turf. I spent about fifteen years living twenty minutes away and was just there yesterday at the library getting some writing done. Princeton is also the inspiration for one of the settings in my current WIP, A Bull By The Horns.
Thank you, Sheri!
A nail-biting all night thriller. The characters were likable, I could feel what they were experiencing. I would love to read more in the Street Stories by Debra R. Borys
I knew from an email Jill at IndieHeart sent me two weeks ago that this review of Bend Me, Shape Me would be a good one. Jill has experience working with troubled teens and so her accolades are high praise indeed. Please click through to read more, including a brief overview of the main characters that you should find interesting.
I found most of the characters in Bend Me, Shape Me to be well drawn. Alley is the perfect picture of a boy with fetal alcohol syndrome. Snow, who has been diagnosed as bipolar (like many traumatized teen girls with legitimate anger) is a strong and compelling character. You will find yourself pulling for her from the beginning.
The author also brings a high degree of craft to the elements that make the story an experience you can see, hear, and smell; she has a talent for both descriptive language and dialogue. The conversations between characters, in particular, ring true. If you want your street people to speak a polite, formal language, look elsewhere. This story is a story of the cold winter streets and abandoned squats of Chicago where survival is difficult and language is colorful. Ms. Borys paints a picture that makes you feel you are there.
I find it interesting that on the same day I receive a review complimenting how strong the characters are portrayed, I also find another which says the opposite. The Pankhearst Review posted a review on August 14 that I found only because I was bored and did a Google search for “Borys” and “Bend Me, Shape Me.” Despite the fact that the reviewer felt disappointed with the character depth and thought the ending seemed rushed, he did have a few good things to say and ended his commentary with: “”It’s weird reading a novel and being satisfied and disappointed at the same time.”
This is the only 3-star review I’ve ever received, but I find it wasn’t as painful as I thought it might me. You might say I also am “satisfied and disappointed at the same time.”
If you’re looking for a quick, easy read with an intriguing plot and interesting subplot, then I do recommend you pick up a copy of this novel. There are many things to like about Borys’ writing style and content wise Bend Me, Shape Me has a fair amount of meat for you to feast on. With gritty and harsh moments, you’ll be drawn into the story and constantly wondering ‘what’s next’.
I am, Indeed gave Bend Me, Shape Me a 4-star review and had some great things to say, particularly about Snow and Jo as characters.
Snow’s “determination to protect her brother and survive against horrific odds is a testament to her strength.”
“Jo is pretty amazing and the careful nurturing of the budding relationship that she is building with Snow is well-defined and presented with a solidity that feels both possible and realistic.
I hope you will click through to read the whole review, but here is another little taste of the a 4-starry goodness:
There must be something in the air or some odd convergence of planets: I’ve had a group of books that I have read lately that, at least tangentially, deal with characters that are “less than” in society’s eyes. Bend Me, Shape Me is no different. Debra Borys deals with the issue of underground teenaged runaways. Often squatting in abandoned buildings, abused in birth families and targeted for abuse by the predatory denizens of the city, and often with recurrent and severe mental illnesses, this is not a pretty set of circumstances for a quiet afternoon read. That should NOT discourage you, however, because it is a beautifully written, well-presented and completely engaging afternoon’s read that will have you wondering if you can find somewhere to make a difference in this world.
This update to MJ Joachim’s review sounds like kind of a big deal to me. Click through to read the whole blog post above and tell me what you think. Am I silly to be so excited about this?
Last week I posted a link to a review of Bend Me, Shape Me by M.J. Joachim. While she had many good things to say about the book, she concluded at the end not to add the book to her Recommended Reading list. While I was disappointed, I was happy with the many things she did like about the book.
Snow and Jo were not done with the reviewer, however. Recently MJ wrote this note on a review she did for a John Grisham book:
Note: I added an update to my recent Bend Me, Shape Me review. This book touched my heart and prompted me [to] read and conduct further research about homelessness. Consequently, I published another book review for Danielle Steel’s book, A Gift of Hope, today on my Effectively Human website, and have added Bend Me, Shape me to my Recommended Reading List
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M.J. Joachim did a thoughtful review of Bend Me, Shape Me last week that I almost missed. While she did not add the book to her Recommended Reading list, she had many good things to say, including the excerpt below. Click through to read the entire commentary.
Let me know if you agree with some of her conclusions. I love learning if there is something I can do better for next time.
This is a story that begins with an intensely strong opening chapter, one that startles readers, awakens their senses and captures their attention. Happy endings, albeit nice, seem to soften the blow and dismiss the horror of what life must be like for homeless teenagers on our streets, especially in rough cities like Chicago.
Bend Me, Shape Me is an important testimony for the plight of homeless people, prostitutes, addicts etc. My heart opened wide as I looked beyond the story and felt the desperation and hopelessness they must feel, as I recognized and acknowledged the circumstances which led to their situation. There is no other answer but love and compassion for those left wandering our streets – lost souls in need of hope, assistance and truth without judgment, fear or rejection. This was the meat of the story, the message I hoped Borys would deliver in her conclusion.
I am delighted I agreed to read and review this novel. Borys offers fascinating characters, a look at inner city homeless children and combines it with a suspenseful mystery that kept me flipping the pages. This is the second book in the Street Stories series but each work is a standalone. Three word review: suspenseful, enlightening and well done.
Snow is a powerful character who has been apart of too much darkness for a girl of eighteen. She is street wise and has spent her youth protecting her brother Alley and drowning her sorrow in pills. Snow and Alley are half Native American and left the Washington Yakama Reservation with her mother and father. Their life went downhill from there. Orphaned they have become wards of the state and both show signs of mental illness. Snow is strong, brave, troubled and incredibly fierce. Watching her open up and trust was profound. Jo Sullivan is a reporter plagued by the conditions of the homeless children on the streets. When Blitz dies she begins researching and eventually meets Snow. I liked Jo; she cares and takes an active role in bettering her community. She can be fearless and I enjoyed watching her work to find the truth. Jack works at the center and while we didn’t have a lot of interaction with him, I enjoyed those we did. Dr. Mordechai Levinson is someone you will love to hate and I found him to be pompous and manipulative. We meet other characters who help round out the tale including the Ramirez’s uncle.
Borys spun a fascinating and suspenseful tale all while weaving in the lingo and life of homeless children in the intercity. She cleverly wove in government experiments and repressed memories keeping me on edge. The tale has darker sides with drugs, and implied sex. The novel is well researched and shows in the characters creating a realistic feel. There were one or two characters and scenes I felt could have been eliminated for a tighter tale. The pace slowly built towards the climatic conclusion keeping me engaged. Borys did an excellent job of bringing all of the threads together.
Bend Me, Shape Me is the second novel in the Street Stories Suspense series and my experience with Borys work. Fans of realistic suspense and unique characters will appreciate this tale.
Darian Wilk continues to love my Street Stories suspense series. Here’s her review of Bend Me, Shape Me. She is also offering a contest to give away a print and e-copy of the book. Follow the link to enter.
This is the second book in the Street Stories series by Debra Borys, the first, Painted Black, I also had the privilege of reviewing.
The focus again is on the lives of young homeless kids living on the streets. Kids, especially those trapped in this type of life, should be able to trust those in positions to help them – like psychiatrists. But something feels all too wrong. Snow’s roommate commits suicide. Again Jo Sullivan is the one who steps up to help those without a voice. True to Borys style you get a very surreal feeling of what life on the streets is really like. It’s gritty, dirty, frightening, and cold. She portrays this life effortlessly, and before long you’re pulled into this harsh life these kids live.
The plot moves along at a good pace throughout the story, slowing and spiking at just the right points, and the characters are fleshed out so well that you immediately feel a connection to them – even if you’ve never lived the same kind of life.
There are many books that try to delve into the darker areas of life on the streets, yet at best can only come across as somewhat believable; Borys is quite the master at not only creating believable environments, but thrilling tales. Again, I would recommend Borys work to anyone who is a fan of the suspense genre, or anyone brave enough to take a real look at life of homeless kids. But buck lovelies, it opens your eyes to all the ugly you try to pretend don’t exist.
I would definitely recommend this book, and series. Be sure to add it to your Goodreads list!