Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: The Radius of Us - Marie Marquardt

The Radius of Us 
Marie Marquardt
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #ContRom2017, #DiverseReads2017, #PopSugarReadingChallenge2017, #NGEW2017

If I was pressed to summarize this book, I would pick the following part of the book blurb:
Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor.
There was just so much I loved about this book, I don't even know where to start. This is a love story, a story of redemption, and a story of survival. This is story of gang violence, refugees, and the Central American Crisis. This book hit me on so many levels, and I was all in from the first page.

Both Phoenix and Gretchen were victims. Gretchen had been assaulted, and was suffering from PTSD. Phoenix was running from his gang-life past, and fighting for him and his little brother to stay in the US. These two were able to find solace in each other's company. Gretchen was able to feel safe; Phoenix was able to see a possible future. Both were hopeful, and I couldn't help but be hopeful with them.
Looking at that smile, I feel like I can breathe better, like the air has just changed to pure oxygen. 
Phoenix's story definitely stole the show. My heart ached as I learned about his past. He had experienced so many difficult things in his 19 years, it did not seem quite fair. He made mistakes in the past, but he turned his life around. This idea that one can change, and one does not need to be defined by one's past is so important to me. I want to think that every mistake I make will not haunt me forever. I want to believe that I can overcome my past, and move forward towards good things. I need redemption stories to keep this flame of hope alive, and this book definitely fits the bill.
He's helping me come back alive. He's sort of amazing. 
This book is also packed with great characters. I know many people will mention the diversity present in this book, because there is A LOT of diversity in this book. There are black, white, and Latino characters. Some are straight, some are gay. They are rich, poor, and in-between. They were from all walks of life, and all these different perspectives added to the beauty of this book. But besides being diverse, they were just beautiful characters. Sally and Amanda were the lovely lesbian couple, who took Phoenix into their home and were paying for his lawyer. But they did not just give him monetary support, they gave him genuine affection and support, and served as one of several mother figures in Phoenix's life. There was Bree and Ty Pennington (Trading Spaces anyone?), Gretchen's friends, who were struggling with how to help Gretch after the attack. I really liked that Marquardt surprised me with Ty. He turned out to be so much more than I thought he would be. Sister Mary Margaret, another mother figure, had given a lot to Phoenix, and continued to fight for him from afar. Finally, there was Barbie and Bo, the biker couple with hearts of gold. All were special and really enhanced the story.

I read the acknowledgements, and was not surprised to find that Marquardt is an immigration advocate. Her passion and knowledge is obvious in this story. I found it all quite interesting and heartbreaking. It left me with a lot to think about for sure.

I am getting a little misty just thinking about it, but I. Loved. That. Ending. The epilogue was perfection for me. I am so grateful for that epilogue. It was everything for me.

Overall: A beautiful and emotional story of love and the human spirit, which deeply moved me and left me with many important things to ponder.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the advanced copy of this book

Have you read this book?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. And here I am commenting on your old review because I loved that book so much too!

    1. I am so happy to see someone else raving about this book with me. I think Marquardt's books are under-hyped. I read 2 of the 3 (I have the first book, but the print is really small), and I was delightfully blown away by both.