I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack

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I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack

Buy I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Olivia Mitchell
Reviewed by Olivia Mitchell
Summary: An addictive and engaging debut YA novel about the monsters in our homes and heads, the pains of being young, and the power of letting people in.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 291 Date: July 2020
Publisher: Self-Published via Amazon
External links: Author's website

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Isabel is determined to start fresh. Start again. Sixth form will be different. Her tormentor doesn't go to Gilleford Secondary School anymore. She can escape the hurt, the fear, and the person she became. Josh is determined to keep going, even through the rage, the pain, and using his fists to solve any problem or situation. But he has secrets that threaten to tear him and his brothers apart. When Josh and Isabel's worlds collide, can they make their relationship work? Can they both finally be happy? Or will Josh's time run out?

Josh is a complex character. He channels everything he feels into violence - because at home he has no other choice. His mum left him and his younger brothers Ryan and Georgie alone in a squalor, trapped with their alcoholic, violently abusive father. Every day, Josh knows he's fighting to protect his life and the lives of his brothers. But he refuses to notify the police or anyone else. He knows what happens to foster kids. He can't face them being split up. He has a plan - once he's 18, he'll tell the police everything and take his brothers away from their father for good. He just has to hold on for a few more months. Although painfully stubborn and proud to a fault, we cannot help but feel immense pain and sorrow for this wreck of a family. A 17-year-old trying to care for a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old, whilst trying not to die at the hands of their own father. He is a character you hope the best for until the very end.

Isabel is trying to heal, determined to find her feet and forget the bullying she was a victim of for the last couple years. She has finally found a group of friends and has her sights set on university. But when she meets Josh, completely by coincidence, she is drawn to him and to his secrets. One of her first encounters is when she is heaving his beaten body up the stairs of his home. She comes to care deeply for him and his brothers. She is loyal, loving, and wants to get to know him - no matter how damaged, standoffish and confusing he may be. She is a good person, and by falling for Josh she finds her confidence and joy again, and although I feel the author could've delved even deeper into their psychology of these characters, I found them to be relatable, realistic and well-written, and I enjoyed the way the author highlighted the difference in definitions and presentations of families.

The book is written in chapters that alternate between Joshua's and Isabel's perspectives, giving us insight into their different lives and the way they're perceiving the moments they're sharing. The writer skilfully moves from moments of sadness and defeat to heartwarming moments to intense fights with ease. The story has a genuine feel to it - these characters and their struggles feel as real and painful as if they were playing out in front of you. I connected with the characters and their psyches - each determined to push on, and though their lives are different their hearts are the same, which I think is what makes their bond so enjoyable and something we really root for. The language is easy to read, familiar and feels a very natural set of perspectives- it is written well from the perspective of teenagers. The description is intense and truly brings the chapters to life.

I did find certain elements of the plot to be slightly repetitive - the frequent abuse, the flaring of anger and Josh constantly pushing Isabel away - however this wasn't a huge issue and instead hammered home these concepts to me as a reader, showing how constant they were in these characters' lives and how deeply engrained these behaviours were. I enjoyed this book and found it an addictive read, and I particularly enjoyed the author's escalation, both in plot and pace, as the book reached its shock ending.

A powerful book about pain, bravery, love, the dangers and burden of secrets and learning to let people in.

Further Reading:

Every Little Piece of My Heart by Non Pratt - a story about the pain of being young, complicated families and the violence that is all too present in our lives.

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Buy I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Am Unworthy by Angela Mack at Amazon.com.


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