Friday, 9 November 2012

Swell by Julie Rieman Duck.

Welcome to my stop on the Swell Blog Tour!
When Christian Rusch plucks Beck Ionesco from the freshman ranks for himself, she’s tempted with parties, popularity, and love. But as the free-flowing booze that soaks his world seeps into her own, Beck begins using liquid courage as a way to ignore Christian’s dark moods… and cover her anxiety about his flirtatious friend Hillman.

However, when Christian breaks up with Beck, and Hillman makes a dangerous move, no amount of alcohol can stop the pain or keep her out of trouble. And just when it seems like she’s lost everything, Beck is partnered with Jesse Leary for an art project. After spending time with him, Beck realises it’s more than a study date… and Christian’s not happy about it. Then again, Beck’s not sure she’s happy with him, either.
But only after plowing through a bottle of wine, a wild fight, and one guardrail that becomes Christian’s last call, does Beck admit to her problem and ask for help from the one whose life secretly parallels her own.

This isn't something I would usually pick up but the blurb intrigued me! The book surprised me with it's depth and I really enjoyed it!

What I loved:
  • Jenna- I loved Jenna, She was loyal, honest and forgiving, a true friend to Beck. I found her to be an alternate to how Beck would have been if she hadn't been tempted, she showed a mirror image of who Beck was initially and who she could be. I think her reaction to alcohol emphasised how out of control Beck and the 'popular' group were. I liked reading a down to earth girl in a book full of out of control people!
  • Jesse- I am in love with Jesse! He was so supportive and genuine. I loved how he came out of nowhere and gradually grew closer to Beck. I think he was the perfect guy for her to meet when she did. He intrigued me with all his knowledge on Alcoholic Anonymous and his secretive life but he was up front and honest to Beck and respected her. All in all I think he saved my opinion of Beck I found myself warming to her more the closer she got to Jesse.
  • Subject Matter- I loved how the author approached the topics of alcoholism, peer pressure, unhealthy relationships and sexual assault from such a believable angle. Beck started out as an ordinary girl so her spiralling journey into alcoholism and unhealthy relationships was much more authentic and relatable. She really highlighted how easy it was to slip down the path alcoholism without meaning to and what kind of horrible and dangerous situations it can led to. I liked how she juxtaposed Beck and Christian's unhealthy relationship with alcohol with people like Jenna and Allison who didn't downward spiral as badly. I also liked that Beck didn't make a miraculous recovery but struggled with her addictions. It made for a gritty, realistic read.
  • Flashforwards- The little snippets hinting at what would happen to Beck at the start of the first chapters were so intriguing! They warned of the bad path Beck was heading down and kept you guessing exactly what would happen. They were such a clever plot device!
What I didn't love as much:
  • Christian and Hillman- I'm grouping these two together as I disliked both initially and that just deepen as the book went on! I found Christian to be insensitive and self absorbed, the fact he allowed the Hillman issue to exist and escalate was inexcusable. I think I disliked him the most as he was disillusioned with how inappropriate his behaviour was towards everyone and focussed only on how it all affected his personal life plan. Hillman was a disgusting human being, an awful friend and an intimidating threatening guy. He had few redeeming qualities and was exactly the kind of guy no one should let their guard down around. I think these two characters were sadly realistic if slightly exaggerated. Christian was the rich guy who depends alcohol to cope and allows it to control him and Hillman, the guy who waited around to take advantage of drunk girls.
  • Parents- I was disappointed with most of the parents in this book. The characters were all under 18, mostly drinking their parents' alcohol and out at all hours with no supervision. I have a hard time imagining my parents allowing me or not realising that I was out at all hours and completely wasted almost everyday.... I felt Beck's parents could have intervened earlier although her Dad redeemed himself later on. Christian's parents were so completely oblivious to their son's actions it was shocking! I just felt if the parents had been more observant they could of avoided half the major situations their children ended up in.
I really enjoyed how this book took me out of my usual reading zone! I loved how it explored such deep subject matter, the only negative was I couldn't connect with Beck!

Have you read
Much Love!

Tour organised by


  1. Thank you for reading SWELL, Lettie. It was hard to write because so much of what went on in the story is based on experiences - either my own or those of my friends. Sadly, I knew many kids who would be out at all hours doing whatever they wanted to because their mom worked at the bar, or was with a boyfriend. As for me, I used to sneak out so my parents never knew (shame on me).

    What touches me most is that you loved Jesse. He is such a wonderful boy. How I wish I had known him as a teenager.


    1. Thanks for writing it! Especially as it was based on real experiences.
      I think my perception is slightly skewed as I'm from UK where the drinking age is lower and my tee total Mum has the hearing of a bat and sleeps inbetween my room and the door out of my sixth floor apartment so sneaking out was never an option for me!
      I loved Jesse- Rebecca wasn't easy to love but Jesse was so patient.
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for hosting! I'm glad that you ended up enjoying the book. I'm with Julie about the parents thing. I remember a lot of my friends had completely absent parents and they rarely needed to be home or check in. It so sad though.
    I too loved Jesse! He was definitely the light in the book, the hope you can see ahead for Beck.
    I'm off to spread the word of your review!

    1. Thank you for organising the tour, I don't think I would have picked up Swell otherwise!
      I think I had a more supervised group of friends who were more like Jenna and my parents didn't keep alcohol in the house and were very light sleepers!
      I like how you view Jesse as the hope for Beck- very true!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I don't think I could read this book. I'm fairly certain the subject matter would be too much for me. Just thinking about it from the hints in the blurb and your review is making me queasy.

    1. It is a touchy subject to read.
      I've been lucky personally not to encounter anything as extreme as this book in real life so I was able to disassociate myself abit while reading.
      Sorry it made you queasy but thanks for stopping by anyway :)

  4. This is wonderful I had no clue about all this until the moment I discovered this blog entry of yours here. And I have a question for you. Do you happen to know how to defend your entries from being used without your awareness about it?


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