ARC Review: Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins
Stir Me Up
by: Sabrina Elkins
Publication Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 245 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars
I first became aware of this book after seeing Sara from Forever 17 Books post it as one of her Waiting on Wednesdays. I have been on such a contemporary kick lately so when I got the email from Harlequin asking if I wanted to review it- I jumped at the chance. And I am SO very glad I did! I really enjoyed this book! I enjoyed both Cami and Julian's characters and watching them evolve as individuals and as a couple was definitely a huge bonus for me.
Cami is a 17 year old senior in high school who lives for working at her father's restaurant. Cooking is in her blood and she wouldn't have it any other way, despite her father's insistence she start looking at colleges. Cami's life is turned upside down when her father recruits her to go with his new wife Estella to help her nephew Julian, a Marine who has been critically injured while serving overseas. She is definitely not happy taking time away from the restaurant and her boyfriend, Luke. Luke and Cami's relationship is in the discovery phase and is really starting to heat up. Cami, however, is not quite ready for sex and while she wants to explore these feelings she is also afraid of going too far and not being able to stop. I enjoyed Luke and Cami together at first, but after awhile, I just felt Luke kept pushing her and only wanted to spend their time together exploring each other. Cami wasn't exactly against the exploring, but she did have her limits and while Luke respected them, you could tell the two were pulling in different directions. As if Cami's life isn't complicated enough, Julian is coming to live with them while he recovers.
Oh, Julian. The boy stole my heart almost instantly despite his surly, negative attitude. When we first meet him, he is such a dark, angry character. He is unfriendly and bitter, wanting to be left alone. My heart shattered into a million pieces for him. Not only is he struggling with his physical disability and the fact he isn't the man he used to be, but mentally he is having to cope with the horrors of being overseas and watching comrades fall in front of him, knowing there was nothing he could do. He is haunted by what he has seen and blames himself for not being able to do more. Cami tries to treat him with respect and be understanding of him, but there comes a point where she's had enough. She's tired of tiptoeing around this guy, who has not only taken over her room, but has invaded her house with his negativity and brash exterior. I think Julian really ends up respecting her for not placating him and giving him special treatment.
Julian and Cami's relationship is very slow moving. I think the pacing was perfect. Julian is suffering from a very traumatic experience and has an injury that makes him feel as if he isn't whole. He has a lot of demons to overcome and has a long road ahead of learning how to live with his disability and then eventually accept it and move forward. As stated above in the blurb, this is considered Mature Young Adult due to sexual situations. I found that aspect of Cami and Julian's relationship to be absolutely beautiful. Cami doesn't see the broken man in front of her- she sees the young, good-looking, sexy Marine and she isn't bothered by his disability in the least bit. He makes her feel things that Luke never did and together, they both make one another feel desired, wanted, and loved.
"There are five smaller scars on his torso that I can see. He's so beautiful, like a young David Beckham only with scars instead of tattoos. I kiss each of them and then he pulls me up and looks at me like he's searching inside my mind for something." (e-ARC pg. 142)
There is so much more to this book than just a romance. Cami doesn't know what she wants to do with her future: she just knows she wants to cook. It's her passion, yet her father doesn't feel that she should have that kind of life. He wants more for his daughter- he wants her to get an education, to explore all her options before she makes the decision to be a chef. He has seen first hand how it can be an isolated, lonely life due to the sheer number of hours that are required to do such a profession. He doesn't want her to be overworked and not able to enjoy a family, which is why he is pushing so hard for her to go to school first. I love how prominent Cami's family was in this book. Most YA contemporaries don't place much focus on the main character's family, so I was pleasantly surprised at just how great a role Cami's father and step-mother played in this book.
Even though Cami is finishing up her senior year and is looking for guidance, Julian refuses to influence her in any way. He wants her to live out her dreams and explore life for herself. Cami needs to learn to be independent and focus on what she wants so she can discover her life's course.
"What I need to do is go out there and find out who I am. Explore the world a little. Taste it, take a bite of it. And then when I come back, not step into a footprint my father or boyfriend or anyone else made for me, but find my own way to make a footprint myself." (e-ARC 228)
This was such a beautiful book that highlights two characters' journey to self-discovery, forgiveness and acceptance, and most importantly finding the kind of love that's worth saving yourself for.
About Sabrina Elkins: