Review: Slow Hand Quickens by Allie Mathews

Kristen Weatherly is surviving. She's been surviving her whole life. She can't wait to get her diploma so she can leave town and create a new life, one worth living.
Having been hurt, Kristen doesn't trust, and with good reason. But when she gets a job at the county library, a fellow co-worker and student, Mila, breaks through Kristen's walls and befriends her. She shows Kristen that there are good people in the world, sometimes when you least expect it.
After a spontaneous run in with a boy named Chris that Kristen dubs Mystery Eyes, Kristen wars with herself about opening up to him because that can lead to more hurt and rejection.
As the two get closer, and secrets are revealed, will they be able to move beyond their pasts together? Or will those pasts come between them when they need each other most?
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Review

Resigned to a life she feels is beyond her control, Kristen Weatherly tries to keep everything as simple as possible. She waits for time to pass, willing it to speed up. She does what she is told. She does well in school. She doesn’t go out, or participate in after school activities. She doesn’t even have any friends.

 “…if you put your trust in someone, eventually they broke that trust and you were worse off than you’d been before. This, I knew.”
—Kris, Slow Hand Quickens

She decides that she needs to get a job, and in doing so attracts a potential acquaintance. If only she could interact with her like any regular teenage girl would, maybe they could be friends, though she knows better than to let someone in.

For right now, her focus is solely on graduating high school, after that she doesn’t know what she will do, just as long as it takes her far away from home.

“I’d go to a new place and find a job I wanted and I’d get it. I would learn how to be happy.”
Kris, Slow Hand Quickens

These glimpses of optimism peek through when she thinks of someday leaving, building some kind of life for herself in the near future. Making her great escape. She just has to make it through her senior year, and then she can put her plan into action.

 “For now though, I needed to find a way to get through today, tomorrow, the year. I just had  to get through.”
Kris, Slow Hand Quickens

Things start to look less simple when she catches the eye of the new boy at school, not to mention her burgeoning friendship with Mila. It’s beginning to look like her runaway train may be derailed.

Kris might be one of my favorite characters ever. She is strong-willed, though she keeps it locked away. Considering how horrific things can be for her, her thoughts aren’t overly dramatic, but at the same time, they are completely believable. You want to feel sorry for her, and you do, but it’s almost like she doesn’t want that. She has accepted the way things are, and just wants to get the hell away from it all. She is fighting, but quietly, while she bides her time.

You will find yourself angry at her—asking, “why?” Why is that happening? Why doesn’t she do something about this? Why doesn’t she leave now? Why does she seem so indifferent?

Many people are or have been abused, people from all walks of life and of all ages. And just like there are varying forms of abuse, a victim’s reaction also varies. Sometimes, they may appear indifferent, and some would say this is ineffective.

In some cases, I agree. But when you have nowhere to turn and have lost all faith in the supposed protectors around you, sometimes, indifferent works. It’s kind of like playing possum—rolling over, and playing dead.
Eventually, the abuser may leave you alone.

I really experienced Kris’s pain throughout the novel, just as I could feel her change as she started to take back the pieces of herself, little by little.

And then, we have “Mystery Eyes,” or Chris (that’s right, they have the same names. They are that cute), the new guy. They quickly begin a sweet relationship, but he has a lot on his plate. And I mean, a lot. These two show insane amounts of selflessness. They are almost quite perfectly matched. His story is also heart wrenching, and watching the development and growth of Kris’s character in relevance to his is astounding.

“He was helping me get through my hell, having come in to find and save me; it was only right that I did the same for him.”
Kris, Slow Hand Quickens

This story is slightly heartbreaking, but also restorative. You can feel the fragility, and resilience, of the characters. There are some rough scenes to read, but they were tastefully done. Overall, this was an amazing 4.5 star debut novel by Miss Mathews.

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