Serenity Falls by Tiffany Aleman & Ashley Poch

Serenity Falls - Ashley Poch, Tiffany Aleman

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"You know it’s hard enough for [the disabled kids] with all of their own special needs, but even the ones who know they aren’t going to live forget about that when they’re here, and it’s all because of that girl."

Did you hear that? We have a special snowflake alert. This heroine is so perfect she makes disabled kids forget their difficulties and it's all because of her!

To be honest, I don't know if I should be offended by this. I am, so well, I'll be that. At first, it didn't bother me, but that's what this book is about (apart from the romance). We have Kenleigh, who is traumatized by the fire that caused the death of her parents when she was younger. Going into depression, her aunt sent her to a farm where disabled people could be around horses. (There's probably a name for these types of places, but I can't recall it as I'm writing this review). She gets over her depression, and now, years later, we see her return to the place where she got better. Of course, now there's the handsome bull rider, Wes, the son of the owners', who immediately sports an interest for Kenleigh, and she for him.

Serenity Falls is a light read most of the time. I appreciated that, truly did. Kenleigh has for the most part worked through her depression (but I'll get back this as I'm not appreciating the way that was portrayed), and is now a rather mature woman. She doesn't take shit from others and stands up for herself. Okay, that is relative. She is very... let's say stereotypical Southern or traditional, whatever you want to call it. She cooks, the man works, if you know what I mean. And that's fine, not my own style perhaps, but if that's what you want, Good for You, do what's right for you! On the other hand, that also means she slutshames (typical New Adult).

In general, Serenity Falls was okay. Nothing extravagant, nothing that stood out plotwise. A bit Nicholas Sparks over the plot. On a good day, I'd give that type of story a solid three. There was, however, one key element that bothered me, personally. How depression was portrayed. This is a difficult topic, one that needs to be dealt with care. Depression is an individual experience in terms of symptoms. One general thing can be said for it though. That is that depression is not grief, sadness, anger, or bitterness. (At least that's what I've learned from my own personal experiences and stories from others who have been through depression.) That's how both Kenleigh's depression as well as one of the kid's on the farm is portrayed. Kenleigh's approach is... strange, for me. At one point, she feels the need to expose her past (read: depression) to Wes for him to understand her. However, when she tells him the story, her main (and only) focus is on how others treated her and felt. Barely any mention about how the depression affected her or how she felt during it. This is quite strange, to me. Depression is a big part of someone's life regardless of if it's in the present or past. Depression leaves a big impression on the person. It's not just some "fling" that is worked through in a few weeks. It takes major work to battle it. The fact that Kenleigh dismisses medication was one of the big problems. I felt that the part where one struggles to overcome or handle his or hers depression was played off with little consideration to how difficult it is in reality.

This became even clearer when the kid, Bailey, comes into the picture. She has lost her brother in a car accident, and it is stated that she is diagnosed with depression. The word depression is thrown around more than a football. It is more than clear that what Bailey suffers from is not depression, but grief. She is showing major improvements after a few days! She is enthusiastic (well, maybe not quite, but close to), hopeful, sad, happy... a wide variety of emotions. Most importantly: grief. So yes, the portrayal of depression didn't sit well with me.I am sick of books (both New Adult and other genres) is using this illness like it's a fashion trend that can be dismissed in a week or month. Hence, the lower rating.

(Sorry for long rant, but depression is a touchy topic for me when not done well or with sensitivity.)