by Kacey Vanderkarr
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Onnaleigh Moore is part of a plan—and it isn’t hers. When her brother dies in a car accident, Onna is desperate to preserve the tatters of her family. Any hope of finding normalcy vanishes when her mother runs off and her dad turns to booze to numb his pain. Onna’s grief is crippling, but the boy who showed up just when she needed him is helping her cope.
Everett’s presence is comforting, though he knows things—Onna’s name just before they met, where she lives, and sometimes he comments on thoughts she doesn’t say aloud. She pegs him for a stalker, or maybe psychic, but the truth is deadlier than she imagines. As their feelings for one another deepen, Everett confesses a horrifying secret: Onna’s brother is only the beginning of the plan, and some fates are worse than death.
I felt utterly conflicted while reading this book. On one hand, I found Stepping Stones fascinating. The storyline was incredibly unique and while I can’t say why, since that would be a spoiler, just know that it was a lot of fun. I quickly consumed what I learned, and I wanted to know more. But on the other hand, I wasn’t able to connect to any of the characters. I couldn’t find anything to bridge the gap between us, and I never cared for them deeply. And with all of the doom and gloom that happened in the first part of the book, I needed to feel connected. To feel Onna’s pain. I hate being an outsider just watching the story go by. But that’s where I stood, and it made me sad.
“And your parents?”
Onna shrugged. Her mom hadn’t spoken to her at the funeral. Like she didn’t exist anymore. Emotion burned her throat and Onna pressed her forehead to the passenger window, fighting it down. “We’re all okay,” she said, but it tasted like a lie.
Onna is in the midst of her parents announcing that they are getting a divorce. And from there, her world spirals down and crashes into the ground. Her dad succumbs to being an alcoholic, her mother abandons them, and her brother dies in a car crash. Did you just read that last line? To have that much happen to you is beyond horrific. It felt as though Onna was drowning. Again and again. And I hated having to watch her struggle that intensely.
But thankfully Onna does have someone that loves her with their whole heart. Her best friend Parker. She would scoop Onna up and try to help her when she was struggling. Parker was a true a friend that Onna could always count on. But despite Parker being there for Onna, she could be such a bitch to people. She claimed to love her boyfriend, but would cheat on him multiple times. She was rude to people, ridiculously rude. And at times, I just wanted to shake common sense into her. Parker gave me serious whiplash throughout Stepping Stones, but hopefully she’ll grow up as the series progresses.
“……I’ll be whatever you want me to be. You choose.” – Everett
But what I enjoyed the most, besides the unique part of this book that I can’t mention, was Everett. He was sexy, smooth, caring and mysterious. His words could be so raw and perfect. I just wish that I enjoyed this book more because he was amazing. He walked into Onna’s life just when she needed hope and he gave it to her. Well kind of. You see Everett has a lot of secrets. Of course he does when he knows things that he shouldn’t. And one of those things is that Onna’s life is part of a plan.
There’s a silence that death leaves. It’s more absolute than the absence of sound.
So in the end, Stepping Stones was definitely an enjoyable book! It had depth, an insanely hot mysterious male, and was without a doubt unique. Plus, we had a heroine who was cautious at times, yay! Onna wasn’t always trusting and had no problem pushing people away when she couldn’t decipher what was going on. I loved that about her! But even with all of those wonderful things floating throughout the story, I struggled to find a connection to any of the characters. And for me, I desperately need that to enjoy a story and to want to continue on. But everyone can have a different take on a book sometimes, so hopefully you can connect to Onna and the story better than I did.
***ARC was kindly provided by the author, via YA Bound Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review***