Book Review, Recommendations

REVIEW: The Mason List by S.D. Hendrickson

Guys. GUYS. If you haven’t picked up this book, then you better do something about it and READ IT NOW!!!

Okay, I just… I am really just at that point of post-reading where I am reduced into a ball of feels and I just really love how this book turned out! I love it! So much! When it said in the blurb epic love? Yeah. Fucking believe. This book is the fucking definition of it. I can feel it in the very core of my soul and I feel like I have been conned to invest on a fucking rollercoaster ride, please give me back my heart~

the mason list

So I can’t remember how I actually discovered this book. But what I do know is that I have never been so thankful I stumbled upon this book. It actually makes me excited to share what I read about this book, especially since it’s a debut book, and it’s SUPER FUCKING FANTASTIC!

Blurb:

Today, 8:15 p.m.
I hurt. I hurt so deeply, I felt the pain searing in my bones and jabbing like a hot poker into my heart. I knew nothing would make it better as the memories pulled from the crevices of my mind, detailing the bad and the ugly, filling my thoughts with regret as I slipped into the darkness. . .

When I was eight, my mother was dying of cancer, my father lost his job, and the bank kicked us out of our house. I was forced to move to the strange town of Arlis, Texas where my father and I slept in our car in the hospital parking lot. Desperate and hopeless, we lived on fumes of our former life.

Then one night, everything changed forever. A knock on the car window brought a family into my life that I only wanted to shut out. I hated charity and I hated the Masons. Well, except one. He made it impossible to hate him.

Jess Mason had the biggest blue eyes and ornery smile of any boy I had ever seen. He was a ray of sunshine in my dark world. A boy full of adventure, dragging me across the meadow of Sprayberry Ranch; a beautiful Texas paradise full of horses and tree houses that got us into more trouble than anyone ever imagined.

Jess was my everything as a kid until we grew up and the rules changed. Instead of living happily ever after with a boy full of love. . . I destroyed it.
– Alex Tanner

 

The thing is, you shouldn’t take this book lightly. While the trope of childhood friends may have been approached as fun and fluffy in most books, this book? It holds no bars in hitting every soft spot you may ever have in your soul.

Growing up, Alex had a pretty good family, believing that her mother was an angel, and that they are living in a fairy tale. It was really, really good. And then things took for the worse, her mother suddenly faces ovarian cancer on its terminal stage. The battle with the illness dragged on and on until literally nothing was left to Alex’s family.

This part really got to me. I swear. Reading this with a perspective of a person coming from a third-world country who experienced poverty first-hand? It’s like splitting open my gut, and prodding the warm and bleeding vault of the past that seemed too real to be true, to be faced at such a young age. That’s what is even more painful. At eight, Alex was robbed off the chance to be a kid, and was forced to accept the things that are happening around her. Combined with her mother – her lovely, angelic mother – who by then was just a whisper of who she had been, the reality of the world was just imposed upon her, shattering her fairy tale life into smithereens.

And then came the Masons. Dr. Mason was the attending physician of Alex’s dying mother.  By then, Alex and her father had already been reduced into living in their own car at the hospice’s parking lot for a whole month – July in Texas. Dr. Mason offered them a room in the hospital, and along with his wife, the Mason’s gave them food, and eventually helped out as much as giving them a place to stay and even livelihood. In the truest sense of the word, the Mason’s saved Alex’s family.

Jess Mason was the son of Dr Mason. And while his mother was helping out by giving food and clothing to Alex and her father, Jess gave back the childhood that Alex was missing out on. From then on, it forged a bond between Jess and Alex that will only go stronger in time.

The thing about this book is that the readers are granted front-row seats as to how Jess and Alex found each other, how they grew on each other, how they fought for and against each. Basically, it’s like watching your kids grow up, and who cannot feel attached to that kind of exposure?

The way the book was written was also very effective in capturing the hearts of the readers. It didn’t read like a debut book, to be honest. If this is a debut book, then I am very, very much afraid what a second or third or fourth would to my heart and soul. There is that sense of familiarity with words and really well-planned and well-built world that solidifies the foundation of the book in every step of the story.

Aside from watching these two people grow, there is also a sense of adventure that hooks the readers into reading more. Interspersed by chapters that are obviously glimpse into the future, it grips the readers into the flow of the story and how everything would fall into that place in the future. And when you did get to the point where the past and future converges, your heart is just ripped out of your chest in the most shocking and gruesome manner.

The thing is, you do not write a fucking big scene like you are just casually mentioning the color of the mane of a horse, because it KILLS THE READERS, OKAY. Let’s not make it a habit of pulling a Finnick Odair in every book.  (Readers, now you get an idea of what I’m talking about. Or maybe, the gravity of this turnaround.)

I am reminded actually of the book One Day by David Nicholls, by the sense of the book and the format of the story-telling. Also, it also has that seem unassuming feel of a Nicholas Sparks book, but only like 50x more intense and better.

 

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