Stephanie fights reality every day. The voices inside, the ones declaring her worth, deem her broken, used and dirty. She is an object. A toy. Something to be tossed aside when bored. Who will believe her if she whispers the truth about her wrecking ball of a family? Eventually, her secret explodes and the person who means the most to her knows just how shattered she is and why she’s so afraid. But rescue is closer than she realizes. Hidden in plain sight, her horror hasn’t been ignored by everyone. Racing against the truth of what she faces, forces are joining together and developing a plan to free her from the hell in her own backyard. And while she’s at her lowest point, she’s hit with the beauty of love at any cost – redemption in the face of ruin. Will it be enough?
*Warning: Contains mature content that may not be suitable for younger audiences*
“Hey Steph—wait up.”
Kevin’s footsteps strike a quick cadence against the sidewalk as he works to catch up with me. He grabs my hand and pulls me back in step with him. Glancing at me out of the corner of his eye he stumbles through his words.
“Don’t be mad at me, Stephanie. It’s just…this is fucked up. And I’m not buying it’s because we live in different worlds and there are different rules so I don’t really know how to respond.” He grabs my face with his hands and I notice there are tears threatening the corners of his eyes. “You need to hear me. Okay? Hear me. This is fucked up. It’s not okay. And I need time to figure this out and I need to know how the hell I’m ever going to look at your dad without beating the shit out of him. It’s absolutely maddening to know someone you care about needs protecting and you can do nothing to protect them.”
We stare at each other in silence, frozen in our spots on the sidewalk. I can see the Cloud Nine sign blinking neon in the distance, and just past that on the horizon, a blinding shade of orange bursting into red catches my attention.
“The sky is screaming.” My voice cracks against the quiet and startles Kevin out of his thoughts. He looks at the sky and then back at me.
“What?” he asks.
I point at the sunrise. “Look at the sky. It’s screaming. The colors are begging us to notice. The reds dancing and making a soft shade of pink on the clouds’ underbellies and the blue fighting for its own place in the sky.” I look at him and shrug my shoulders, “The sky screams for people to notice —even when we know no one will. I’ve said it before. The sunrise? It’s my constant. Even on the nights where I have to close my eyes to shut out things to simply survive, I always know the morning sky will scream my discontent to a world not listening. It’s violently beautiful and echoes my heart.” I stop, realizing Kevin is staring at me. Again.
A girl could get use to this, I think a bit pleased. I raise an eyebrow and look at him, waiting.
“You’re doing it again,” I say.
“Doing what?” he replies.
“Staring. Burning a hole into my face with your eyes. What gives?”
Kevin looks at me and pulls a stray hair from my ponytail between his fingers, watching the new sunlight make iridescent gold patterns on my uncut layers.
“You sound like a poet,” he says, smiling gently.
My insides become a puddle at the bottom of my rib cage. If only he knew just what he was capable of with those blasted eyes, I think to myself, trying to focus on what he’s saying. It seems important, judging by the intensity of his eyes and the set of his lips. I’m able to regain composure when he starts speaking again.
“When you speak, you sound like a poet. A broken, hurting, incomplete, yet hopeful poet.” He leans forward and whispers so softly I can barely hear him. “I sometimes hold it half a sin to put in words the grief I feel; For words, like Nature, half reveal and half conceal the soul within.”
“Tennyson.” I reply, my breath short with surprise that Kevin’s quoting one of my favorite poets.
He nodded, “Yeah. We read him the other day in English and it reminded me of you. You always ‘faintly trust the larger hope’ in anything you do. It amazes me.”
“It’s the only thing I can do. My life, as you have witnessed first hand, isn’t ideal. But I can hope, and I can dream, and I can look for moments when I feel alive—because I am. Still alive, despite everything.”
He snarls in disgust. “I regret the day you were born. You mean nothing to me, you little bitch. Nothing. You’re the worst mistake of my life.”
Is your mouth open right now? Yea, mine was. This is a father talking to his daughter Stephanie. This is the first time that my heart broke a little bit, a tear formed, and my blood pressure rose while reading Every Shattered Thing and it definitely wasn’t the last.
“He’s right you know. You’re worthless. I wish I would have listened to him from the very beginning. You shoulda never been born. I shoulda aborted you when I had the chance.”
Well, damn! To say Stephanie has a rough life is the understatement of the year. This is her mother talking to her. I seriously cannot get my thoughts together in regards to this book. It is just that overwhelming and exhausting.
We hear about human trafficking in the news, happening in other countries, and in the movie Taken starring Liam Neeson. But, how many of us actually read an account of what it may be like for a young lady that is a victim of this inhumane act? Every Shattered Thing is a work of fiction but I would bet money on it that it is a pretty accurate depiction of how a young woman feels as a sex slave.
Every Shattered Thing left me speechless and hurt. My head hurt after it was over. My heart hurt after it was over. Every Shattered Thing is a book of desperation. Every Shattered Thing is a book of darkness. Every Shattered Thing is a book of hope. Every Shattered Thing is a book that everyone should read because we should not continue to sweep the topic of sex trafficking under the rug. I truly commend Elora Ramirez for writing Every Shattered Thing!!!
Elora Ramirez lives in Austin, Texas with her chef-husband. At the age of four, she taught herself how to read and write, cutting her teeth on books like Dr. Suess and writing anywhere she could find the space—including her Fisher Price kitchen set, the pages of picture books and Highlights Magazine. Since then, she’s grown to love the way words feel as they swell within her bones. Writing holy and broken is her calling, and pushing back the darkness and pursuing beauty through story is her purpose. She loves hip-hop, wishes she lived by the beach and cannot write without copious amounts of coffee, chocolate, and her husband’s lavender liqueur.
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