February 6, 2015

Review: The Mason List by S.D. Hendrickson

Release Date: January 10th, 2015
Rating: 4 stars

An epic love. An epic hate. An epic story that would last a lifetime.

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 

I don't even really know how to write what I'm feeling right now. I've sat here for 20 minutes just staring at my computer thinking of how to start this review.. 

*breathes in* Ok.

The story of The Mason List is told using the events of the past and present. The story starts out in a chaotic scene of present day. You can tell something devastating has happened and you won't find out exactly what that something is until you're 96% into the book. Yup. So you're wondering what the heck is happening, turning page after page until chapter two comes. All of a sudden, you're reading about 6 year old happy-go-lucky Alexandra who has a perfect home, perfect parents, perfect everything. Happy Alex soon becomes angry 8 year old Alex whose mom is dying of cancer and whose dad has lost his job; 8 year old Alex who then has to watch all her perfect toys, perfect princess dresses, and perfect home get sold to pay for hospital bills. My heart hurt when I read of 8 year old Alex and her father being forced to live in a filthy truck outside of the hospital. All the while, confusing, gut wrenching scenes of present day are alternating with sad memories of Alex's childhood. Ugh, too many feels.

Things I liked:

Jessup Mason. That boy was a breath of fresh air. His spunk, boyishness, and Southern twang kept me smiling. He'd loved Alex ever since they were 8 and he showed it. He never gave up on Alex although she repeatedly spurned his advances.

Growing up with Alex and Jess. The story tells of Alex and Jess' lives from 8 to 26 years old. The story telling and history was so well written, I truly felt like I had known them my entire life.

Paying it forward. I love the charity in this book. Stories of the fortunate helping those who are less so have always had a special spot in my heart. Still, Alex hated the Masons for giving her and her father everything when they needed it most and I will never understand why.

On that note, this is what I didn't like:

Bratty Alex. How could you despise the people who gave you everything? I don't understand. The Masons fed Alex because she was living on moldy bread. They bought her new clothes and shoes because her old clothes smelled rotten and her shoes were too tight with holes in them. The Masons gave her and her father a place to live so they wouldn't have to live in that dirty, bug infested truck any longer. They helped her father find a job so that he and Alex could survive! I mean, come on! Show a little gratefulness.

Alex, the tease. It is quite clear that Jess has loved Alex since they were 8. It is also obvious that Alex has always loved him back. Even so, she always shut him down when he tried to get close until the one day she didn't. After that, I felt like she was playing games with Jess' head and I didn't like that one bit. She let him touch her, then she'd run away and not want to talk about it. She let him kiss her, then she'd run away and not want to talk about it. She had sex with him and then, can you guess..?-- yes, she ran away and refused to talk about it! So annoying!

My last thought (spoilers ahead):
The whole time I read this book, I felt tormented. I couldn't stop reading, though sometimes I desperately wanted to. I knew the end was going to be bad. I knew I was going to ugly cry and sob into my pillow. In that aspect, the ending did not disappoint. But at the same time, it kind of did.. But it kind of didn't? Ugh, I don't know. I'm torn. I feel like I would have felt more of an impact if Jess had died, but at the same time, I don't want him to be dead. He waited his whole life for this epic love with Alex to happen and I didn't want it to end so soon after he finally got his wish. I don't know. Confused.

Happy Reading!

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