Toxic by Raquel Valldeperas

Toxic - Raquel Valldeperas

New Adult Tropes: 10

“Maybe you’ll tell me your story one day.”
I shrug my shoulders and say, “Maybe,” but I know that I never will. It’s a selfish story, full of ugly things that no child should ever have to witness and truths that no person should ever have to learn.

Toxic is indeed a story full of ugly things. We follow Logan - Lo for short - through her early youth through her teenage years. Years where she's put through what no human being should have to endure. Growing up with an absent father and a mother who's always looking for the next hit, Lo early on learns that she's "toxic". Or so her mother says, and so the mother of Lo's best friend. The latter causes Lo to lose her first real friend quickly, and when she's alone again, Lo's world takes another ugly turn. For years Lo is put through domestic abuse by her boyfriend. It doesn't take long for Lo to fall into a downward spiral filled with abuse and drugs. When Lo finally lands a job of her own as a bartender, things are looking up when the handsome owner, Nathan, takes an interest in her well being.

This is a perfectly nice story, despite the heavy topics (all dealt with sensitivity), and yet, it's hard to tell what kind of story this is. Is it a romance between Lo and the handsome owner of the bar? Is it the story of a struggling young woman? Is it a story about the world of drugs and abuse? It's hard to tell. It's a little of everything, but at the same time not enough of any. In theory, it's all good. The portrayal of Lo's childhood is dealt with well, but certain points are skipped over, and these are the moments that would showhow Lo descends into addiction. How the man who abuses her (sexually) turns into her boyfriend. While it's no long stretch to imagine these events, the reader misses insight into the mind of Lo, which, given the first POV narrative, is a big part of the story. And Nathan, he's a perfectly good guy - in theory. But here again, some parts seems to be skipped, and Nathan's character development takes the strongest hit. It's almost impossible to get a grip on him beyond what is told. So when a kiss occurs between Lo and Nathan, it's suddenly, a shock. There's almost no build up to their romantic relationship, again, because it felt as if certain scenes were left out.

As said, it's all perfectly fine, but it lacks a certain depth that would make these characters stand out, become complex identities that pop off the page. Instead they are rough at the edges, and not in a good way, but in a sense they feel unfinished. Which goes for the story as well. Each chapter is a date, so the reader knows how much time has passed, but there is a rough quality in the transition from chapter to chapter: scenes are left out and questions are unanswered.

This is the author's debut, and it's a good one. A solid one, but the best way to describe it is that: rough at the edges, just like it's characters.