Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: A Portrait for Toni by Annette Lyon

Here's a wonderful tale from a talented author:

A Portrait for Toni
Annette Lyon has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her.

That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it.

One night after a performance, Toni tries to mend the hurt between them. She goes to visit Carter at work, in his art classroom at the high school. She doesn’t see him there, and instead, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible.

Isn’t it?

My Thoughts: I had to take some time to evaluate how I felt about this book before attempting to write a review. When I first encountered A Portrait for Toni, I was immediately drawn to the cover because of the ballet slippers. I was eager to to read a book that centered around dance but at the same time I was not sure what to expect.  Reading this book, I was not prepared for the mix of emotions that I was going to feel. 

Though this was a love story, it also dealt with a very serious issue: bulimia. This eating disorder became one of the main focuses of the plot. This disease was not romanticized. In fact, Annette Lyon did not spare any details on how horrible bulimia was. It was depressing to read how the heroine Toni battled with the disorder and how it affected everyone around her. Yet at the same time it was fascinating to see how she still had hope in trying to find someone who would love her beyond her body even though she hated how she looked and felt. Even though he knew she was sick, our hero Carter loved Toni unconditionally and it was very heartwarming to see how he supported his best friend through all the hard times.

I'm going to admit that I felt frustrated many times while reading this. I wanted to shake Toni and Carter out of their pity party. Even though Toni was sick, I found her constant negativity a little annoying. It almost made me wish that Carter did move on and forget about Toni, but I could not fault her too much since eating disorders do distort the mind. Carter was great for the most part. He was even my favorite character. But his pessimistic thoughts of himself on not being good enough for Toni or the fear that his feelings would drive Toni away became tiresome. This would be understandable if it was set in high school, but these two were adults and have known each other for a very long time. I would think that Carter would know Toni better in trusting her with his feelings.

For a moment there, I thought I would not like this book more than a three star because of my annoyance, but I soon came to realize how wrong I was. I did not acknowledge at first how emotional invested I was with the story and characters. This revelation happened when encountering the fate of one of the characters. It was completely unexpected and I was shaken. I had to sit back and let the twist in the story sink in. Different emotions went through me as I tried to comprehend everything that happened. I then went back to finishing the book with a more open mind, and found myself loving the ending. I came to learn that feeling frustrated is a normal emotion to feel while reading. It only meant that I was emotionally invested in the outcome of the characters.

To sum up, this book was a roller coaster ride of emotions for me. It dealt with serious issues but it was wonderful to read how love could make people stronger. For a book to make me feel the way I felt while reading A Portrait for Toni, I have to say that it did pretty darn good job. I rate it:

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

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