I’m a sucker for rich girl stories. Not sure why, but I love them. They’re like my guilty pleasure, kinda like trashy Scottish romance novels featuring big sexy men in kilts. No, seriously, I lump books about rich, snotty socialites in with my trashy romance novels because generally speaking, I would NEVER tell my friends and co workers (in real life, yo) about reading them. Oooh, but I love them. So when fic-talk was contacted about participating in a blog tour for Fisher Amelie’s book, Vain, I was like “OOOH! ME! ME!”
And then, I got the book. And about 5 pages in, I wanted to cry in disappointment. No, this book was not looking like it would be my cup of tea. No, I wasn’t getting into the theatrics of the rich and famous, and no, I was not liking the main character, Sophie Price. I was feeling soooooo down in the dumps about it, because as I said, this particular genre of books is way up in the tip top of my guilty pleasure reads. So, I huffed and I puffed and I figured I’d suck it up and deal with the rest of the book. Surely, there would be no growth of the main character. Surely, she would never develop a heart, and most certainly she would never grow on me. I mean, this girl was a flat out bitch. She was snorting coke, partying hard, treating her friends like trash, getting arrested…you know, the typical socialite stuff, the only difference was, I couldn’t even fathom how she would grow as a character in her situation. Most of these socialite styled books have at least a decent character or two in them, this book? Man, poor Sophie had crap parents who didn’t even acknowledge her, friends who only cared for being associated with her, boys who used her body constantly (though, I mean…actually, I think Sophie was just as guilty as using the boys.)
Within the first 30 pages of this book, I had only identified two characters who seemed even remotely human: Spencer (who still had a butt load of issues) and “Pemmy,” Sophie’s attorney (and in the beginning, he was pretty much a jerk, albeit a jerk who at least had a heart, but a jerk nonetheless.) So, yeah, I was feeling super disappointed. There had been NO hint as to what was going to turn this girl’s life around, or if it was even possible (I mean, I knew it would happen, but I didn’t see how the author could make it plausible or realistic, she’d made this girl that awful.)
And then, Sophie had to go to court for drug possession. And was sentenced to 6 months in Uganda working in an orphanage for children who had survived the raids of the Lord’s Resistance Army (real stuff people, google it and have tissues handy.) Now, I know it sounds improbably for a random sentence to Uganda doing service to an orphanage, but Amelie really pulls this off in a way that makes it really believable. I was on the fence until about this book until this, because the synopsis NEVER mentioned anything about Uganda and Sophie having to get a real glimpse into life, so this blew my mind.
And I got really hopeful.
The Lord’s Resistance Army is a real thing, and at some point in everyone’s life they’ve heard mention of the army in Uganda that has children in it. And I’m sure everyone, at least in passing, has heard mention of just how awful this “army” is. They raid villages, slaughtering adults and mutilating children so that they can never rise up against the army, raping, pillaging, killing and stealing livestock. So the thought of Sophie Price being thrown into a situation that is a direct result of something like that? Oh, I was hooked. Next thing I knew, it was 3AM and I was finishing the book and had pretty much cried on and off through the last 30 percent of it.
I don’t cry over most books. And I sure as hell don’t cry over books about snotty rich girls.
I totally cried over this book.
I give the author some major credit for taking a character that literally disgusted me as a human being, and turning her into someone who was capable of love, compassion, and regret. And man, Fisher Amelie did so in such way that absolutely killed my heart in so many good ways. I loved the children in the orphanage, and the adults who worked with them. The situations they faced, the fear and constant worry, yet the inherent happiness and joy the children carried with them no matter what trials they were faced with, absolutely had me riveted.
Ian was just amazing, as someone who could relate to Sophie from his own sordid past, and as someone who would always put others first. He was truly a great character, and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell you what he looked like for even a second, because his personality was what had me in love with him. I know he was hot, I remember that much, but I just couldn’t focus on that when he was so pure at heart when it came to his passion for the orphanage. That was a true man right there.
That being said, I’m just going to summarize my thoughts. I’m pretty sure there were quite a few grammatical/writing issues with the book, because I vaguely remember thinking “Oh, there’s a word missing there,” or “Comma?” while reading, but over all, the actual plot of this book made it so wonderful that I would have overlooked every word being misspelled. The characters were amazing, they were all selfless (with the exception of Sophie…in the beginning) and demonstrated a love for humanity that we don’t see in the every day. Ian was just perfect, Karina and Charles were inspiring, and the children had me wrapped just as quickly as they had Sophie wrapped. The writing, though not perfect, was just what the story needed. It communicated the relationships, the feelings, and the beauty of the story without being over the top. It was simple, true, and fit with the plot and characters in such a way that made the story only more believable.
My emotions were all over the place with this book. Once Sophie arrived in Uganda, it was like a roller coaster for my heart. And I loved every. single. second. My heart says to give this book 5 stars, because it was truly an amazing and inspirational book, but my mind says 4 stars for the slow start and the few errors in writing that I missed… so I’m going to compromise and say 4.5 stars and that I will most definitely be picking up more books by Fisher Amelie in my near future!