BOOK REVIEW ~ DEAR TABITHA BY TRUDY STILES

You know me. You know who I am. What I am.
Damaged. Confused. Alone.
You feel sorry for me. You pity me.
You know what I’ve done. What I’ve given up. Who I’ve given up.
You try to understand what I’ve been through and how I can go on with my life. But you can’t possibly understand.
I’ve lost too much. Sacrificed too much. Given up everything so that I can find myself.
Well, I’m done.
I’m done walking away from everything that matters.
It’s time for me to heal.
It’s MY TURN to earn…
Redemption.Love.Family.
“Dear Tabitha” is the second book in the “Forever Family” series. This is book 2 of 2 and concludes the story that began in “Dear Emily”. It is NOT a standalone story and is meant to be read after Dear Emily.

Having read and loved the first book Dear Emily I dived straight into this second one, fingers crossed hoping that a certain character would finally get the ending she deserved. And Trudy Stiles delivered. As if the first book wasn’t emotional enough, book 2 packed quite a punch, delving deep and stripping bare Tabitha’s harrowing past while laying out a second chance romance with her ex-boyfriend, Alex. I will admit I started this book with mixed feelings towards Tabitha as some of her actions in the first book caused so much pain to the two people who loved her unconditionally. But by giving us her complete past that lead up to the present, I completely sympathized for her and only wanted her to finally get that happy ending she desired.
When I flipped to the first page, I kid you not, I immediately re-connected with the characters. The author wastes no time and immediately hits hard with her words, revealing the painful pasts of both main characters that are only briefly touched upon in book 1. Is it possible for a heart to break twice at a time? Because I’m sure that’s what was happening when I first read about Alex’s memories and then Tabitha’s following right after.
After Tabitha’s mom died, she’s tossed into one foster home after another, finally escaping but only to end up in another monster’s den until she finally meets Alex. On the other end, Alex has been physically abused since he was a kid and aside from his bandmates, is emotionally detached until he meets Tabitha. They run through the whole relationship spectrum, going from acquaintances to friends to lovers and because of one weak moment, break up. Even though they don’t meet again until a few years later, neither one has moved on from each other. And when they do finally see each other again, any misunderstandings and hurt are washed away and only longing and love remains.
I think the character growth in this book is stunning, especially for Tabitha. In book 1, she truly was a mess and couldn’t pull herself together after suffering from severe depression, pregnancy, and losing Alex. I was happy the book focus wasn’t entirely just on rekindling her romance with Alex and put Tabitha’s well-being and healing process a priority. I also enjoyed the Carly, Kyle, and Emily cameos as they all played a huge role in Tabitha’s life.
But without a doubt, what made this book stand out for me was Alex. For starters, I liked that he wasn’t portrayed as the typical rockstar who slept around with groupies and had an ego the size of a mountain. He’s loyal and loving, and because he knew the only girl for him was Tabitha, there was no room in his mind or heart for another. But at the same time he also struggled with anger and jealousy issues and that character growth is explored as well.
Though they wanted to, Tabitha and Alex certainly weren’t ready to handle the enormity of a family and their relationship without working out their own problems first, and once they had and faced their fears, it was a heartwarming thing to read them being able to move on towards their future together.
Just like the way the story was told in book 1, this book alternates between past/present scenes switching back and forth between Alex and Tabitha’s POVs. It sounds like a hassle, but honestly, I was entranced and sucked in by the author’s storytelling method and never felt annoyed or disconnected from the characters. However, the one thing that I wasn’t too fond of was Seth’s absence. He was such a big part of Tabitha’s life in book 1 and it saddened me to see him totally cut out of her life. I think I might be the only one who didn’t think he was annoying but instead, felt for this guy who had an unrequited love for Tabitha and the only thing he did receive was pain and hurt. Anyways, his book is next so I’m awfully interested to see where his story goes…
This book and the first one are stories that took me by storm. Completely gripping and the emotion practically bled out from the pages. I’m still getting used to the fact that this is one author who used past/present POVs and time jumps that didn’t get on my nerves (because 99% of them do). With just these two books, Trudy Stiles has skyrocketed to my list of authors to watch out for. And for the time being, I will be waiting for book 3 with bated breath…
Dear Tabitha is the 2nd book in the Forever Family series and not a standalone. Dear Emily MUST be read first and though there are more books planned in the series, it’s perfectly safe to read these two now as book 2 ends on a satisfying, conclusive note. But I won’t lie. I wanted the next book yesterday!!