Monday, June 24, 2019

Teardrop Shot by Tijan


I asked for his criteria for bed buddies—that's the PG version.
He swore at me and said he didn't do groupies.

And just like that, our friendship was off to a great start.

Reese Forster was the starting point guard for the Seattle Thunder.
Gorgeous. Cocky. Loved by the nation.
He's also attending preseason basketball training camp where I used to work.

Correction: where I work again, because I was fired from my last job.
And dumped.
And I might have a tiny bit of baggage, but that's normal. Right?

Reese and I shouldn't have become friends.
We shouldn't have become roommates.
And we really shouldn't have started sleeping together... (Except we did.)

I'm adorably psychotic.
He's in the NBA.
This is not a disaster waiting to happen, at all.

Teardrop Shot is a standalone with brand new characters.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆☆☆
I need to preface this review by stating this didn't even feel like Tijan to me, which isn't meant in a positive or negative way. Teardrop Shot just felt different than the angsty vibe I've come to expect from Tijan, but that doesn't mean it won't top my favorite list of 2019. Unexpected. Emotionally deep. The saddest yet also one of the most hilarious novels I've ever read.

Bravo, Tijan!

That was one heck of an opener, which hooked me immediately. Creepy grandpa. The humor was a bit over-the-top at first, but I quickly got used to it – this is coming from a stuffy fuddy-duddy who enjoys dark humor and dry wit, not slapstick comedy. Once I discovered what all-encompassing grief lurked beneath the surface, the humor was much needed and appreciated and a welcome relief.

There were two major issues dealt with in Teardrop Shot. There's a reason I didn't put Spoiler-Free at the top of my review, not that I plan on spoiling anything. But I felt readers may want to know the novel's driving force, because it could be a possible trigger.

In a perfect balance of hurt-comfort, Charlie and Reese are dealing with loved ones who are causing nothing but grief and shame and pain. Instead of closing those emotional walls and shoring up that armor, they let each other in, when no one else before was allowed entrance. True friendship, an unbreakable connection, and a relationship built on an emotionally mature foundation, instead of lust and infatuation. Slow-burn at its finest and most believable.

Dementia and addiction cause Charlie and Reese to find comfort and understanding in one another. This resonated with me, as both issues have impacted me in the same way they have Charlie and Reese. Yet they also manage to parallel one another, because the same emotions apply to both situations.

Charlie stole my heart, resonating so deeply with me, there were times I had to put the novel down and just let the bawling commence. I've been there – I'm still there. Freezing everyone out, cutting off all the friends I used to have, finding safety and security in my own personal bubble, where I refuse to let anyone new inside with me. Charlie had the courage to let Reese in, revealing the ability to hope.

I'll try to be vague, as I truly don't want to spoil the experience for anyone. A loved one of Charlie's has early-onset dementia, all those hopes and dreams dissolving, until the one you love no longer recognizes you. But in truth, you no longer recognize them, because you're the same person, and they're the one who has changed. We live for those sparks of recognition (where you both recognize each other), but a few minutes after leaving their presence, it hurts worse because of it, because it solidifies all you've lost and never will regain.

Reese's struggles with his brother's addiction also hit me close to home – as all those hopes and dreams Charlie wanted with her loved one, addiction stole those from me as surely as dementia did her. Which is why I said those two issues paralleled one another, the emotions mixing.

I experienced dementia with my late grandmother, whom I'm still grieving, but I lost my best friend to addiction. At first, it was rare moments where he behaved as a stranger, but as the years rolled by and the domestic violence increased, the enabling slowly killing me, it became rare moments when my best friend made an appearance, where those appearances hurt (just as I described above with the person suffering from dementia recognizing you). Being subconsciously pushed away for my own good, then feeling endless guilt for abandoning him when there was no way I could help or heal him.

Both situations require grieving the living, grieving what could have been, should have been... what will never be...

As you can see, I spent the last half of the novel in tears, never having had BOTH main characters resonate so deeply within me. Feeling that powerlessness again as I read and empathized with their very real agony.

The beginning was cute, with a mystery surrounding why Charlie was so emotionally closed off while using humor to deflect – some of that humor was the funniest I've read to-date. But as the novel progressed forward, the emotions ran deeper.

Not only did I get a summer camp, which is something that for some reason always seems to draw me in like a moth to flame, I also got to read about an NBA legend – also another plot device that tickles my fancy. While these plot devices seem a bit vapid yet oh-so entertaining, it was necessary to offset the deep emotional wreckage Charlie and Reese were suffering. A perfect balance.

Charlie and Reese felt real, their actions and reactions human.

No doubt I'll reread Teardrop Shot. I also won't hesitate to recommend the novel. But I will warn, if you've been impacted by dementia or addiction, this very real take on both may trigger your emotions. For me, it helped work through them more, not feel so alone, but in others it may spark emotions they're not ready to handle.


Ruthie☆☆☆☆☆
This is an amazing book – I am almost certain it will be my read of the year, even though there are six months to go and I've read 150 already. There is no doubt that I will be reading this again – and no doubt I will laugh and cry in equal measure again. Yes, this is a book which pushes all the buttons, and yet does it in a strong, measured way, not with sentimentality, but with the stuff life can throw you, and it is all about how you catch it and take the next step. I loved it, so, so much.

In the beginning, Charlie is someone that doesn't seem quite rational, yet is clearly functioning, if in a slightly odd way. Finding out why takes time, and yet it is possible to revisit all her actions and throw a completely new light on who she is. It is so precious to be able to get such deep insight into why a person may behave as they do; to consider how that might make you think of others in your everyday life; it has the power to change you. That Tijan has coupled the kooky with the damaged, enabling us to laugh, yet to empathise, to find her flighty, yet weighed down with a reality not of her own choosing – stunning. Taking her back to 'before' and helping us understand what her old friends recognise as her, and the bits which have formed over that to help her survive – inspired.

Her foil, her crush, her new friend, her champion – Reese manages to be both a hero and just as damaged as her. He too gives us a view behind the public facade, and a chance to take him and his issues seriously. To wonder at the pressure, the mental agility needed to stay at the top, yet deal with family and fallout. He is the good guy, but he is by no means perfect. He has respect and gives it to Charlie, who feels like she's lost it along with everything else.

These two shine so bright in this story, that thinking back everyone else now looks pale – but actually there are some key players, such as her old camp friends, who give us the vision of the before Charlie, and Keith who gives Reese the reasons to be a hero. The two other, mostly off stage players, give Reese and Charlie their damage, yet in that understanding of each other, give them their future.

And amongst all that, there are some of the funniest quirky lines, some of the most passionate, intense sexual chemistry, and a story about a woman and a man with a chance of everything.

Fabulous.


Avid Reader☆☆☆☆☆
4.5 stars
M/F Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Charlie is hilarious and quirky. I loved her character right away. Despite what she is currently going through in her life, she has this funny way of dealing with her stress. I think you'll enjoy it a lot. When her friends call on her to help out at the camp that they all used to attend, Charlie has few options but to go. With that in her mind, she tolerates her icky camp director and reconnects with people she didn't really even realize she missed as much as she did. But with her past looming over her, she isn't quite sure where she is mentally or emotionally.

Then, in walks one of her favorite sports players. And despite her verbal diarrhea, Reese finds her quirky and funny too. They begin to see a lot of the same hurt in each other and rather than shut each other out, they let each other in.

I loved this book and while it didn't read like a typical Tijan story, it was fantastic in its own way. It was less teenagery in feeling with regards to emotions. These were real issues that Charlie and Reese were dealing with. When someone you love becomes reliant on just you to care for them, your relationship changes. You are no longer participating in the relationship, but swimming along hoping that they won't drag you down.

Charlie and Reese's connection was genuine. It built from a common feeling and grew into such a great relationship. Both characters have to work through their own guilt, grief, and acceptance within the pages of this story, but each character does it in their own way. I really enjoyed this story and can't wait for more from Tijan.



Tijan is the New York Times bestselling author of the Carter Reed series, the Fallen Crest series, and the Broken and Screwed series, among others. She lives in northern Minnesota.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Teardrop Shot by Tijan to read and review.

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