*No spoilers here for either Callie & Kayden book*
THE COINCIDENCE OF CALLIE & KAYDEN (CK1) was a big hit for author Jessica Sorensen. I kept passing it by in favor of other books until last week, when I found out the sequel’s release date as being moved up. Reading CK1 is an exercise in faith, because the only way to keep wading through the horrible pain of Callie and Kayden (and Seth and Luke) is to have faith that it will get better for all of them. So much pain. So much damage. So much sad. But, I’ll give credit where it’s due…it’s a slowly unfolding tale that pays off big once the reveals begin. CK1 ends with a cliffhanger, so I liked that I was only a day or two away from the next installment. Many of you have been waiting a long time. I salute you.
THE REDEMPTION OF CALLIE & KAYDEN (CK2) is also a S-L-O-W burn. The characters are still in full wallow and dysfunction for the first third of the book, but never fear, dear reader. There are literally sunnier days ahead. This time the majority of the story takes place on a road trip with our four leads, looking for redemption and better days. Again…faith plays a huge role here, not just for the reader to stay with the story, but for the characters. They have no reason to assume things will improve.
Style points for Ms. Sorensen. I ADORE back and forth POV (point of view) in novels. In this installment of Callie and Kayden’s tale, the author does one better. Instead of just switching back and forth as the story progresses, she writes several scenes from both Callie and Kayden’s POV, retelling the scene and adding a new perspective and information for the reader. LOVE. Keep doing this, authors. Of course, the Retelling Companion Novel (FINDING HOPE, WALKING DISASTER) is a new breed of sequel, so maybe not EVERYONE should do it. I digress…
I have read other reviews of CK1 and I have to add my two cents. I make my living as a high school teacher. I love my job. A lot of the reason I returned to reading after such a hiatus was the joy of finding books that reminded me of my kids at school or of things that they might want to read about. People pander horribly to high school kids and YA authors are often no exception, honestly. This new breed of YA and NA authors isn’t bothering to pander anymore…and I can only say it’s about time.
Callie and Kayden are SERIOUSLY screwed up kids. I’ve taught versions of both of these kids many times in my career and Jessica Sorensen hits the nail SQUARELY on the damned head. No, not all high school and college kids are like them, but there are many more than people want to admit and very few adults, especially middle class adults, get what they’ve been through. These books will make people seriously uncomfortable for a number of reasons. For the BEST reasons, in my humble opinion. Both Callie and Kayden’s parents have their issues, some that can be helped and others that are just pathological. You’ll see people you recognize in their parents. You’ll see that it’s easier just to look the other way and assume there’s not really a problem under that perfect exterior. You’ll be convicted a little bit. Lean into that pain if you want to change change it for someone else someday.
The resolutions of Callie and Kayden’s tales are respectfully told. It’s not necessarily a HAPPILY EVER AFTER, but it’s enough to make the ride worthwhile. There is one more installment of this series, THE DESTINY OF VIOLET AND LUKE, so our main characters aren’t really done. However, the reader can rest easier with Callie and Kayden after CK2. I’m very excited about the final book in the series, because the author has set up just enough questions about Luke (Kayden’s best friend and roommate) and Violet (Callie’s clearly troubled roommate) that I really want to dive back into this pool again, damn the pain. High praise indeed.
Find Jessica Sorensen on the interwebs: