I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Mandi Castle’s debut novel, Dear Stephanie, and let me tell you, it REALLY spoke to me, y’all.
This book. Oh. My. God. This book. Mandi Castle’s writing is like a warm brownie. Gooey and decadent with all the sugary sweetness that you crave, but wicked and naughty all at once. To say Paige Preston is depressed would be the understatement of the year. Though her outer appearance oozes with perfection, she’s damaged to the core. She suffers deeply as she takes you on the biggest roller coaster ride of highs and lows.
Paige is the poster child for excessive perfection. While flawlessly beautiful, ridiculously wealthy, and fucking brilliant, she struggles with her own self as much as any of us. Sure, I’m not ridiculously wealthy. I’m far from the embodiment of perfection. I’ve never been depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts or tendencies. But as a woman who has felt pain, who has felt less than I am, who has had bouts of extreme crazy, who has suffered silently in her own right…I get it.
The novel is a series of journal entries from one Paige Preston to “Stephanie” who is a fabricated personification of Paige’s diary. Castle writes these entries with such realistic, natural, and eloquent language that I truly believe in Paige. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I felt as if she were writing to me, and I was Stephanie. I LOVED that she regularly referenced Stephanie inside the entries, often referring to her as “Steph,” which gives her a casual and even more realistic personality.
The entries are brutal, with strong sexual content that leaves you breathless, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching experiences that make you want to scream and cry, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal depression, and brilliant acts of love and heroism. Mandi’s writing dances on the pages without glorifying the ugly truths, merely telling Paige’s tale and pleading with you to recognize depression, abuse and other unspeakable acts. By the end of the novel, you’ll find yourself begging for more, cheering for Paige’s triumphs and crying over her stumbles.
Basically, you guys, this book is fucking fantastic. I will place a mini disclaimer here and say that there are a lot of triggers in the book, so if there are things that you have difficulty with – suicide, rape, depression, alcohol and drug abuse – this novel may be extremely difficult. But if you’re okay reading about some really tough stuff, pick this one up.
Mandi Castle is a baller, a blogger, and a word magician. Her blog is full of awesome, and I’ve even caught her sneaking around here once or twice – which I’m not going to lie, kind of makes me feel ridiculously special.
Dear Stephanie hits Amazon today. So why don’t you pop over there and grab a digital or paper copy of this phenomenal novel?
My first FRIST! *swoon*
Ohhh WAS IT?!?! WAHEYYYY! I like being your first FRIST!
Gorrrrrgeous review, QC, and I LOVE how lively and vibrant your writing is. I felt as though you were here in front of me, jumping up and down and fizzing over with excitement about it. 🙂
And I know what you mean – I love when Mandi visits my blog 🙂
I’m not going to brag, but I’m kind of adorable when I’m jumping up and down and stuff. Like a little kid. 😉
Thanks a mil, Lizzi! You’re such a doll, for serious!
*grins* I love that image. I think you’re adorable anyway 😀
*blush* awwww shucks.
OH! And probably my …no, I don’t have a favourite kind of book. I love memoirs, essay collections, fact books (written by David Attenborough), Language books (etymology and the like), crime fiction, thrillers….and apparently I love things like Dear Stephanie and Order of Seven and Memoirs of a Dilettante, as well!
I love all the books. I’ve been through romance phases and thriller/drama/mystery phases and YA phases. Now I just read what comes highly recommended to me. 🙂 And oh mah God, I’m glad I read Dear Stephanie.
OH ME SO VERY TOO! Wowwwwww. It’s STILL with me. I’m holding back from reading the Kindle version again until I have the For Real Book in my hands and then I’ll read that (and probably smell it) and OH I CAN’T WAIT!
I’ve never really been through a romance phase (figures) but I like thriller/drama/mystery…never really got into YA…but I do like autobiographies too. Well into them.
My romance phase was between high school and college. It’s how I learned all the important stuff 😉
*didn’t learn yet*
What an awesome review! Sounds like a great read! Yay Mandi!
Thanks Phil! Mandi has some SERIOUS talent!
This is a great review, QC – you included everything I forgot to! Sheesh. Spot on.
Love this review, so glad for Mandi! I’ll definitely take a look 🙂
Yay! It’s SUCH a great book!