Friday, March 31, 2017

Thirteen Therapists

Sanders, R.J. (2012). Thirteen Therapists. Featherweight Press.

Young Adult / Contemporary / Relationships 


Book Blurb: Senior Aaron Hardaway has a new bad boy lover and he wants his mother out of his hair---super therapist Thirteen warns eyes wide open, but will Aaron listen? He's the son of one of Chicago's richest families. He'll graduate from an exclusive Chicago prep-school. He cruises in a Benz SLK300, a grad present from his father. Aaron Hardaway has it all. But a boyfriend. And a loving mother. Sylvia Karnes Hardaway, evil Queen of Chicago society, long ago thrust her son into therapy hell. Twelve shrinks later, Thirteen enters Aaron's life. Thirteen's mantra is eyes wide open. Thirteen will transform Aaron's life. So will bad boy Derrick. Aaron hooks up with Derrick, and things will never be the same. Maybe he should have kept his eyes wide open.

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HALL WAYS REVIEW: It's been four years since I read this book. . . And I still remember it. I read it straight through in one sitting because I had to know how things were going to turn out for Aaron Hardaway -- a character I came to adore.  I am not sure how posting my review slipped through the cracks (I had it framed, I had my notes) but it did. The good news is that Thirteen Therapists is as timely as ever with its characters and premise, so here goes. 

On the surface, Aaron is living the teen dream: money, the best of everything it can buy, status, and connections.  Beneath the surface, he is alone and drowning in it all, and he longs to be his authentic self. Aaron is someone that readers will immediately like and want to feel loved and kept safe; but he doesn't always make it easy. 

As readers watch the decisions Aaron makes, we understand and feel things right along with him: the passion of sexual attraction, the comfort of belonging, the anxiety of ditching common sense, the thrill of the forbidden.  Right along with those feelings, author Russell Sanders makes sure readers are ill at ease with how the story is unfolding as Aaron and willing Aaron to keep his eyes wide open, as Aaron's therapist (nicknamed Thirteen) has advised him. 

The writing is outstanding and the book is wonderfully edited. The secondary characters, particularly Aaron's mother and bad-boy boyfriend Derrick, are well-written and fully imaginable and realistic. (And evoked strong emotional reactions from me. Momma Bear, claws out.) Sanders also does a great job of building the tension for readers and plants subtle (and not so subtle) hints that there's a train wreck coming. We don't want to believe the wreck is really going to happen, but again, as is human nature, we have to watch. 

Thirteen Therapists is totally engaging. It has twists, turns, and surprises; it has heartbreak, humiliation, and humor; and it has drug use, underage drinking, and male/male sex -- pretty graphic at times -- so sensitive readers beware.  Sanders is an excellent writer, and he has written a bunch of other books since this debut (and I have two of them on my Kindle reader right now.)

Thank you to the author for sharing his book with me so many years ago (and sincerest apologies for not sharing my opinion with the world sooner) in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.


Russell  J. Sanders is an actor, a musician, a teacher, and now, a writer. He loves writing for young adults, and his novels Thirteen Therapists, Special Effect, The Book of Ethan, and Colors are coming of age tales that will appeal to all. His latest book, All You Need is Love, was published March 21, 2017 by Harmony Ink Press

Russell lives in Houston, Texas, with his husband, where he spends his time writing and volunteering and spending time with friends and just living a good life.  

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