27 February 2013

Book Review: A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan Miles

Book Title: A Song for Julia
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press, December 5, 2012
Series: Thompson Sisters

Everyone should have something to rebel against.

Crank Wilson left his South Boston home at sixteen to start a punk band and burn out his rage at the world. Six years later, he’s still at odds with his father, a Boston cop, and doesn’t ever speak to his mother. The only relationship that really matters is with his younger brother, but watching out for Sean can be a full-time job. The one thing Crank wants in life is to be left the hell alone to write his music and drive his band to success.

Julia Thompson left a secret behind in Beijing that exploded into scandal in Washington, DC, threatening her father's career and dominating her family's life. Now, in her senior year at Harvard, she's haunted by a voice from her past and refuses to ever lose control of her emotions again, especially when it comes to a guy. 

When Julia and Crank meet at an anti-war protest in Washington in the fall of 2002, the connection between them is so powerful it threatens to tear everything apart.

Charles Sheehan-Miles had me already captivated when I read Just Remember To Breathe late last year. Now, I am once again charmed reading another book from the Thompson Sisters Series.

Meet Crank.

Crank was about six feet tall, with angular features. Several tattoos crept down the length of his well-muscled arms, but they weren’t like any tattoos I’d ever seen. On the right side, what appeared to be a scroll engraved with musical notes rolled down the muscles to his elbow. His left arm, however, was tattooed with what appeared to be barbed wire, and had a nasty scar, three inches long, on his bicep. 

His real name? I would have loved to call him by that just to taunt him. But after getting out of the house he grew up in and joining the band, he threw his real name out of the window and had it change to Crank. I knew I'm going to love him when I was reading Just Remember To Breathe. He already became famous there. But here, his band was still struggling.

His family life was not easy either. He didn't see eye to eye with his father since he was a kid. His mother left all of a sudden without saying goodbye and giving them any explanations. And there's Sean - the only person in the world that matters to him. Not just because he's his brother, but because Sean needs him. Sean have Asperger's Syndrome. And it is not an easy job balancing his band practice/performances and taking care of Sean when the need arises.

He was jumping from one bed to another, having all the groupies that he would like when he met Julia in an anti-war Protest Rally in the fall of 2002. It wasn't really love at first sight - but something told him that she's different from every girl he's ever been with. After that night, he thought they wouldn't cross path again. But he saw her - in a bar - while he was singing the song he made for her. #swoon!

Fact: As a rule, an often stated and confirmed rule, I don’t chase girls. They chase me.
Fact: I don’t get involved. You want a quick lay, well, I’m your guy. But only for the night.
Fact: I’ve got a brother to watch out for, a band to drive forward to success, a job flipping burgers, and I don’t have time to get emotionally tied up in some girl.
Fact: Six nights running, I’d dreamed about Julia, and that hot retro dress she wore Saturday night for her date.
It wasn’t that he was hot. I mean—I’ve been around hot guys. They’re nice to look at, but they don’t make me feel like this. It was his smile, his charm, his sense of humor. Inside that hard-ass exterior, he was compassionate. Insanely protective of his brother. I wanted to laugh at his smart aleck comments, and I wanted to touch the dimple in the corner of his mouth. I wanted to hug him and heal the hurt that had damaged him.
Crank knew she was the one for him. But can she give him a chance? Can she get pass her past and let him love her the way she deserved?

I didn’t know how to be in a relationship. Especially with someone who didn’t believe in love or relationships. It’s crazy. - Crank

Julia- The Eldest of the Thompson Sisters
I knew her mother could be overbearing and - unfeeling. But until I have read Julia's story, I didn't know what transpired between the two - why their relationship is strained.

This was the longest Julia has ever stayed in a place studying at Harvard. All through her life, they have been moving from one place to another because of her father's job in the government. When they were assigned in Beijing, something happened that made Julia grow up and realize she has to do it alone. No sisters to be there for her since they were so young to understand and her mother didn't really ask what happened, all she cared about was the scandal that occurred and its consequences on her father's career.

Since then, Julia tried to be invisible. She had a terrible senior year in high school - being bullied just because someone she trusted most spread an awful lie about her and backed it with an evidence she didn't know existed. So trust was not her cup of tea. She had trusted several people, only to be betrayed and left.

She followed everything her parents wanted. Got herself into Harvard, and would soon enter the foreign service. She would have done that. Until Crank.

I couldn’t say no. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t say no, because for the first few seconds, I couldn’t even breathe. - Julia 

Meeting Crank scared her. For a long time, she had held control over her life and had never let anyone took over it. It made her felt safe. But with Crank, he made her feel things she was afraid of. He was someone her parents wouldn't approve of. He didn't come from a well-off family, and he was a punk who didn't finish high school.  What can he offer a girl who had grown up with a body guard?

What I learned was this: letting myself be at the mercy of hormones and brain chemicals and emotions can be deadly. - Julia
“What are you afraid of?” he asked.“Losing control,” I replied.“Sometimes losing control can be wicked awesome,” he said. 

When finally, a chance for his band arises, she was asked by Serena to manage them.  Suddenly, she was in control in one aspect of her life. Her parents did not want her to accept this, she was sure. But she was willing to try, even if it means saying goodbye to the pre-planned graduate school and foreign services.

Love Worth Taking Risk
I love both of them - although Julia was exasperating at the end of the novel. What kind of girl would decline Crank when he was ready to give his whole heart to her, when he's ready to let her go even though he had professed his undying devotion? Crank who can have any woman at his bed, and on his life. He wanted her: scarred and all. Now he was letting her go - can she find the courage to accept his love before it was too late for either of them?
“I love you, and I want you to be happy, I want you to have the life you deserve. And if that means … if that means I have to stand here and watch you walk away, then I’ll do it. I won’t be happy about it. It’ll break my heart. But … if that’s what you really need, then we’re done.”
Second Chances
A Song For Julia, a stunning story of second chances on life, love and family. It shows how people who have been a lot through life can finally escape his/her demons and move on. How love means letting go of a person no matter how much you need him/her in your life. How love means taking risks when it means being with the person whom you know would do anything for you. How important support system sis, especially the role of parents in guiding their children, and being their for them at all time, especially when they are needed most.

It's romance, it's drama with a touch of humor: a perfect mix handed to us by Charles Sheehan-Miles that would have you hooked not only to Julia & Crank but to the rest of the Thompson Sisters.

Carrie, I want to read your story next!!!!

Favorite Quotes:

  • “Before you go, you need to know - I'd do anything for you. Even kis you goodbye and watch you go.”
  • “Because you make me better. You make me-you make me feel like I matter. Like my life matters. I feel like, with you, I can do anything in the world. That we can do anything in the world. And we will.” 
  • “Sometimes things aren't what they appear. We all have hurts that we don't show.” 
  • “Home's where the people you love are. It's about finding the things that matter to you, and holding on to them and taking care of them.” 
  • “I love you, and I want you to be happy, I want you to have the life you deserve. And if that means … if that means I have to stand here and watch you walk away, then I’ll do it. I won’t be happy about it. It’ll break my heart. But … if that’s what you really need, then we’re done.” 
  • “I’m afraid she’s going to grow right past me and end up falling in love with some asshole who has it all together.” 
  • “The things you rebel against are the things that define you”
  • “What I learned was this: letting myself be at the mercy of hormones and brain chemicals and emotions can be deadly.” 
  • “Sometimes … I think parents work so hard to keep us from making their mistakes, they won’t allow us to make our own.” 
  • “I stood there for a few more seconds, watching her go. And I couldn’t do anything but admire her courage, her compassion. I wanted her. I wanted her so badly I was shaking.” 

About The Author
Charles Sheehan-Miles
Charles Sheehan-Miles
(grabbed from twitter)

Charles has been a soldier, nonprofit executive, short order cook, IT manager and run a restaurant. He doesn't believe in specialization. He currently works as a communications and outreach specialist for a law firm representing disabled veterans.

Charles lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his wife Veronica and their two children.

Coming in May 15, 2013: The Last Hour
In Just Remember to Breathe, Dylan Paris is one of the two main characters. Twenty-one years old and still recovering from serious injuries in Afghanistan, that book is Dylan and Alexandra Thompson’s love story. 
Dylan comes from a troubled past, but he’s pushed past huge obstacles to make his life what it is. And, in May we’ll see a lot more of him (and Alex) in The Last Hour. (from: http://www.sheehanmiles.com/)


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