Monday, November 25, 2013

Review & Giveaway - Sia by Josh Grayson

Title: Sia
Author: Josh Grayson
Release Date: November 20, 2013
Pages: 193, ebook
Goodreads Rating: 3.48 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG (Nothing more than kissing)

Summary from Goodreads: When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

This is an interesting situation because I actually read this book a good month ago and posted my review on Goodreads.  I gave the book 3 stars because while I felt like it was an excellent book for younger YA readers (it's sweet, has a great, uplifting message and is refreshingly chaste - just a few kisses) I also thought it was a little too sweet sometimes and it was pretty unrealistic.  However, the author took the critiques in his early reviews to heart and has since updated the book and made some major improvements.  While I didn't re-read the entire book, Grayson was kind enough to send us excerpts containing the additions that he made.  I'm happy to say that these additions actually addressed most of my major issues with the book!  Because of this, I have increased my rating of the book to 4 stars.

The synopsis describes the book well, so I'll skip right to what I did and didn't enjoy.

The negatives (These have been updated since my original review went up on Goodreads - Grayson addressed many of my original issues with the book):
  • Sia's lack of common sense.  I originally had a long explanation of why I was frustrated with Sia's lack of common sense here.  I have to say that, from the excerpts that Grayson sent me, I think he addressed almost all of my issues, at least mostly.  I think he now gives a better explanation of why Sia doesn't go to the police, gives Sia more motivation for making what turns out to be a bad decision, and has the homeless woman that Sia meets up with encourage her to seek help - check, check and check.  So, this really isn't much of an issue at all any more.  Would I still have felt frustrated with Sia for not getting help at the beginning of the book?  Maybe, but I think that Grayson did a good job of giving us real reasons why now.
  • Easily solved problems.  Again, Grayson addressed my issues here, to some extent.  Sia's amnesia was caused by stress - and there was plenty of it in her life.  But, when Sia returned home as a new person, her problems were just a little too easily solved.  For instance, her mother's alcoholism was "fixed" with one conversation and a quick trip to rehab (this is one case where a change was made to improve this - while this critique is still somewhat true, Grayson changed the conversation with Sia's mother so that it is a lot more realistic and there's more "pain" involved in getting her to go to rehab). Sia's family's financial troubles are solved a bit too easily as well.  It all just feels a little unrealistic.  There were other examples as well - the circumstances around their fundraising (luckily Sia and Kyle are both so incredibly attractive that they stand out even at a huge Hollywood event and win over all of the stars!), the resolution between all of the friends and enemies -  it was all just a little too simple and sweet sometimes.
What I loved:
  • The message.  The overall message of this book was really positive and I think that younger YA especially would really benefit from and appreciate the book.  Sia learns the importance of giving and of treating people - all people - with love and dignity.  She realizes the importance of family and true friendships.  These are all great lessons!  
  • Sia and Kyle.  Sia and Kyle are a very sweet couple.  I loved Kyle - he was generous and kind, but he didn't let people walk all over him.  I also thought it was very realistic that he would doubt Sia at first and that she had to really earn his trust.  
  • The amnesia storyline.  I definitely thought it was interesting to see Sia slowly learning about herself through others.  The idea of someone suddenly being a blank slate and then completely changing personalities is really intriguing to me.  And the fact that Sia didn't like who she used to be made it that much more interesting.  I could definitely sympathize with her distaste for her old life and for her fears about what would happen once she regained her memories (would she wake up on a park bench again one day, back to the old Sia?  It seemed like a valid fear considering what she'd been through).  
I think that Sia is perfect for a younger YA crowd who wouldn't mind too much if the story gets a bit unrealistic. It has an excellent message and was an enjoyable read.  Overall, with the changes that Grayson made to this book, since I first reviewed it, I give it 4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***



Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.
Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

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