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I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident.
I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should've left...
I didn’t. I didn’t jump out. I didn’t get embarrassed.
And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved.
I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept.
The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could've stayed forever, I would have.
He became my sanctuary.
Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.
** Standalone full-length novel, Mature YA themes
Love all tijans books.
Absolute perfection ❤️
Every book by Tijan is brilliantly written. I know without a doubt “Ryan’s Bed” will be another favorite! 4 more days! Can’t wait!
The Reality of Those Left Behind
There are a couple of reasons why I didn’t hesitate to request an ARC for Tijan’s newest release, Ryan’s Bed, even though I knew it would be a difficult read for me. The subject matter is apt due to what’s happening with the youth of today, and because I’m a high school teacher, I have firsthand experience with what a teenage suicide does to those who s/he leaves behind. In my 18 years of teaching, there have been several students’ deaths in my tenure, but out of all of them, there are two individuals who took their own lives who I was close to and had to witness as well as endure what these two young men’s deaths did to their friends, their parents, and their peers. I don’t think there is anything more difficult in my profession than feeling helpless as students you have grown to care for are left with a mountain of unanswered questions and overwhelming grief because they wished they could have prevented it from happening.
I knew, before I even started Mackenzie’s story, that it would be an emotionally driven story line, not so much angst, but an abundance of over-the-top teenage feelings that none of them would know what to do with…how to channel the pain and anger…how to move forward when everything stopped being what they had grown to expect from their lives when the news was delivered. While this is wholeheartedly Mackenzie’s journey…she’s not alone in her conflicted feelings or the numbness that seems to consume her every minute of every day, except, perhaps, when she’s in Ryan’s bed. Mackenzie’s experiences are ones that readers who have dealt with similar situations can relate to, and while some readers might find her reactions and actions as exaggerated and a bit unrealistic, they would do well to remember what it was like to be a teenage girl and how everything went from one extreme to the next…there was never a middle ground, especially for the things that truly mattered…or at least the ones they thought mattered the most.
Ryan’s Bed is not so much a coming of age story; it’s more Mackenzie’s journey through the stages of grief and how she handles each one and those who try to help her as she stutters, stalls, and stops moving forward in hopes that her present reality is nothing but her worst nightmare. There is no right or wrong reaction to a tragedy of this kind and the lessons from such an occurrence won’t be learned for quite some time, so because readers are experiencing Ryan’s Bed only four hours after Mackenzie’s twin sister committed suicide, the extreme rawness and extraordinary feelings of anguish are apt and speak to the mind frame that Mackenzie is in as she tries to cope with a loss that no one should have to endure.
Tijan’s title choice is an interesting one, at least in my opinion, because while Ryan Jensen plays a pivotal role in Mackenzie’s story, he’s not necessarily the hero nor is he Mackenzie’s focus as the book continues. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan is essential in helping her work herself out of the darkness that consumes her and what develops between them is something that she uses as a lifeline. He’s her anchor when she feels like drowning and he’s her mender when she doesn’t think the broken pieces of her heart and soul can be repaired, but the first steps of healing and making herself somewhat whole again has to come from within. Mackenzie has to be able to save herself before anyone else can help her along. Ryan’s bed is a safe haven for Mackenzie; it’s the place she can go to rest her mind and take enough calming breaths to make it through each day and while those things seem insurmountable at the beginning, it’s quite inspiring to witness her fight through the hellish ordeal she finds herself in due to someone else’s choices.
Tijan takes the sensitive issue of suicide and speaks for the survivors…speaks for the people left behind, and as she gives them a voice, she works hard to provide a realistic experience, which she definitely accomplishes and while some readers might be turned off by how over the top they feel some situations were handled or how some reactions were portrayed, I can honestly say that because I witness how the teenage mind works day in and day out in a school setting, no one can say what depictions are real or fabricated because every single teenager reacts differently regardless of the situation.
Tijan definitely did Mackenzie’s story justice and perhaps in doing so allowed young adults to cope within the pages and the words of Ryan’s Bed.
4.5 Poison Apples (The Fairest of All Book Reviews)