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Lily and Taylor

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After her older sister is murdered in a horrific incident of domestic abuse, Taylor begins a new life in a new town. She meets Lily, whose open, warm manner conceals a difficult personal life of her own, coping with her brain-injured mother. The two girls embark on a tentative friendship. But just when life seems to be smoothing out, Taylor's abusive boyfriend, Devon, arrives on the scene, and before they know it, the girls find themselves in a situation that is both scary, and incredibly dangerous. Abetted by Conor, a friend who owes him a favor, Devon takes the girls to a remote cabin. There is no heat, no food, no water. There is a hunting rifle, which Devon uses to intimidate the others. As he becomes increasingly agitated, and Conor threatens to bail, the girls engage in a silent battle of their own. Lily wants to escape, while Taylor feels hopelessly trapped by her relationship with Devon and uses sex and flattery to try to keep the situation calm. The cabin becomes a pressure cooker, filled with tension as the four teenagers wrestle with their anger, fear, resentment and boredom - any one of which could tip the situation into disaster. From the opening moments when Taylor witnesses her sister's autopsy to the final cathartic scene after the two girls have survived their ordeal, the reader is glued to every page of this frank, gripping and beautifully written novel that raises questions for every teenager. Do you need to be a certain way to get a boyfriend? Can someone who loves you also hurt you? How can a million small compromises eat away at who you are? What happens when you don't think you deserve to be treated well? How do you end up in an abusive relationship, and what keeps you there? Elise Moser goes deeply into the hearts and minds of Lily and Taylor, who in the end save each other in unexpected ways.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1900

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Elise Moser

10 books7 followers

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5 stars
9 (8%)
4 stars
26 (24%)
3 stars
41 (39%)
2 stars
19 (18%)
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10 (9%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,097 reviews17.7k followers
February 19, 2017
2.5 stars. A decent narrative about abuse, but altogether kind of boring and weak.


There's a good discussion of abuse here. Yes, it takes an entire book to get through this discussion, but the topic is covered with empathy.

While Taylor is a weak character throughout, her characterization is at least consistent and sensical. Lily is much more relatable as a character, but the two characters reflect different sides of abuse very well.


The writing style is incredibly emotionless. Most of this book felt so forced. This was partially because of the lack of consciousness in Taylor's point of view about what was happening to her.

Also, another note: I'm not sure if this is what the author meant, but there's one scene where Taylor thinks about "wanting to kiss Lily's neck" (yes, really) and at the end of the book there's a scene where... it implies that actually occurred? Not to project, but... y'know, that seems gay? I feel like the author was trying to slip a romantic couple past censors here, but it all felt so emotionless and forced. Wasted potential.
Profile Image for Colette Whitney.
26 reviews24 followers
September 9, 2013
From my blog: www.refutingtheintolerablystupid.word...

The writing was great and profound, but I really didn’t like the plot or any of the characters (except maybe Taylor’s nephew, Mason). It’s a story about domestic and sexual abuse. Taylor’s sister is with this man who physically harms her constantly, and one day he ends up murdering her. Taylor has to identify her sister’s body and it’s a real mess.

Cut to Taylor and Mason leaving their home and moving towns to live with their grandmother. This is when we find out that Taylor also has an abusive boyfriend, who threatens to beat her if she finds any new friends at her new school. When she finally does make a great new friend, he kidnaps them both, beats them up and takes them to a cabin in the middle of nowhere that has no water or electricity. And she still thinks to herself that, in his relaxed moments, she loves him.

I don’t want to sound insensitive, because I know domestic violence is a plague (Moser also included statistics in the author’s note), but I was really angry with Taylor. Her sister died from domestic violence and she found herself in the same situation and didn’t do anything about it. She had people who would have helped her and she had the opportunity to do it. She moved away and I really think that separation gave her the perfect chance to get help, but she never tried. I know it’s not as simple as that and that there are a lot of emotional conflicts and confusions when this happens. I would have liked to have a bit more hope. I shared this feeling with the other main character, Lily, who was angry with Taylor every time she obeyed her boyfriend. She understood why Taylor was so submissive and that she was just trying to be safe, but she also wanted her to be courageous and stand up for herself.

What I loved about this book was the beautiful language. Moser’s observations of love and friendship and family were stirring and deep and a rare find in modern literature.

If you want to read a book with great language and this doesn’t sound like a plot that would bug you, this novel is a great choice.

(I received this ARC a while ago, but it was the beginning of the school year and I was swamped! Sorry for the delay!)
Profile Image for Alma .
1,208 reviews11 followers
January 30, 2016
Taylor lives with her older sister Tannis and her son Mason. Tannis is constantly beaten by her boyfriend, but loves him and is sure things will get better. When he winds up killing her in a fit of rage, Taylor moves in with her grandmother and Mason. Read the rest of the review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.c...
Profile Image for Kim B..
301 reviews8 followers
August 7, 2018
3.5 stars.

I tore through this one, honestly. It's a really disturbing portrait of two girls in atrocious situations, and it somehow gets even WORSE about a third of the way in, and for the most part it's just a rollercoaster ride of "oh no, I NEED to know what's happening to these girls." I wasn't sure that Lily's POV was necessary, Devon's cruelty was perhaps too excessive to always be believable (though he is one scary mofo), the pacing has a few issues, and I was put off by the frequent use of the r-word, but the depiction of abuse here is unflinching and harrowing.
Profile Image for Courtney.
956 reviews21 followers
January 29, 2014
In spite of the cute cover, this is not a book for the faint-of-heart. It opens on Taylor acting as a witness to her sister's autopsy after her sister dies in a horrible domestic abuse accident. Since Taylor and her nephew had been living with her sister, they must now move to their grandmother's house and attempt to move on with their lives. Taylor leaves behind an abusive boyfriend and finds that life is actually bearable when she doesn't have to fear the safety of her nephew or herself. She meets Lily, another "girl with Baggage". Lily lives with her mother, who was brain-damaged in an accident years ago. It's left Lily's mother jobless and largely dependent on Lily for the day-to-day running of the house. The first time Taylor invites Lily over to her grandparent's house for dinner, her abusive boyfriend Devon turns up and demands that Taylor come with him. Lily, recognizing that something is off, hops into the car with them. Devon has brought a driver, a guy named Conor, who clearly owes Devon a favor. The foursome drive off to a cabin deep in the woods, far out of cellphone range and even farther from civilization. Things go from bad to worse as the girls wait to see if they'll survive this unexpected trip.
Domestic abuse is not exactly uncommon in YA lit, but rarely is it presented in such a frank way. It's clear that Taylor has been around abuse her entire life and sees submission as a survival mechanism. She rarely, if ever, thinks about herself. She has devoted her life to others, whether they treat her well or not. She also sees in herself the potential for the same type of anger and violence, which disturbs her. Lily is less prone to letting a guy call the shots for her; she's been witness to her mother's failed relationships and recognizes the signs of a person about to become violent. She still has trouble speaking up for herself, however.
This is a heart-breaking little book. It took me days to read it simply because it was hard to face the circumstances of the young women in the book. Still, Lily and Taylor are women of potential. The reader can sense that there's more to them than the abuse and neglect they've endured. The reader will cheer these girls on as much as they'll want to shake them for not fighting back. There are no easy answers in situations like these and this book does not pretend to have answers. Strings are left untied at the end, but there's a note of hope that this fragile friendship may bloom into salvation for both young women.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,155 reviews4 followers
December 22, 2015
Taylor’s older sister Tannis was recently murdered by her abusive boyfriend. While he awaits trial, Taylor (who had lived with them) moves in with her grandma, her step-grandpa and brings with her Tannis’ 6 year old son Mason.

Because of the move, Taylor can no longer spend time with her boyfriend Devon. Devon is controlling, abusive, violent and jealous. When she speaks to him on the phone, he accuses her of meeting new guys and cheating on him, which she refutes. The only true friend she’s made is a girl named Lily, who has purple streaks in her hair and takes care of her brain-injured mom.

When Devon and his friend Conor unexpectedly show up to Taylor’s grandparents house one evening, Lily senses something is wrong and forces herself to join them on what was promised to be a quick drive. Quickly learning that this trip to a mysterious cabin is fraught with danger and ill will, Lily does all she can to remain strong and get her and Taylor out of this terrible situation.

The cyclical nature of abuse and how it’s passed on from some family members to others is at the core of this book. Brutal, frank and unflinchingly violent, this book will resonate with teens and (hopefully) make them think twice about being in a controlling relationship. Taylor’s character is the yin to Lily’s yang - Taylor is fragile, emotionally damaged and stuck in an abusive relationship that she can’t seem to leave. Lucky for her, Lily’s perseverance and strength will help Taylor slowly see the light.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
August 16, 2013
After her sister dies from domestic violence, Taylor and her nephew move in with her grandmother. Although it's hard being away from all that is familiar, a new town offers Taylor a way to escape from the violence in her own romantic relationship with Devon. Since her grandmother is unwilling or unable to provide funds for Taylor to travel to see him, the relationship is reduced to sporadic phone calls in which he monitors her behavior and seeks to control her friendships. Taylor starts to blossom in her new high school, even winning a prize for most improvement in biology. She and another classmate, Lily, who has familial demons of her own with which to contend, slowly become friends. Just as things seem to be improving for Taylor and she has hope for the future, Devon arrives in a car with a friend. He persuades Taylor to come along so they can have some privacy, and Lily joins them in order to protect her friend. The author does a good job of describing the cycle of abuse in which Taylor and Devon seem to be trapped while also highlighting how difficult it is to break free from the kind of relationship in which the two are engaged. The book raises many questions and forces readers to examine their own behaviors and motivations.
Profile Image for Ofilia.
435 reviews27 followers
March 22, 2014
I finished this on awhile back, I just couldn't figure out what to say about it. This was another one of those books that I had to read for work because of the potential for complaint. It is difficult to read to say the least. Moser does not hold back on describing the abuse endured by the two main characters. I understand why a book like this is important. I understand why it's necessary to have this type of abusive story represented in teen lit. I just didn't believe the ending. It was so tidy. The girls seem to decide that they are going to forget their ordeal and go on being friends. It felt like sunshine and rainbows, which the rest of the book simply did not support. While the majority of the narrative was unflinchingly honest, the ending felt like a story you tell a small child to make them feel better.
874 reviews4 followers
September 20, 2013
Taylor's older sister is murdered by her husband after years of domestic abuse. Taylor repeats the pattern with her own abusive boyfriend, Devon, involving new friend Lily in a nightmarish kidnapping. The characters were flat, and I'm guessing the constant smoking was supposed to symbolize their lower class status, but as much of the rest of this book, it was both heavy-handed, obvious and even somewhat insulting.
Profile Image for Jen.
246 reviews9 followers
September 3, 2013
Taylor and Lily both have secrets about how crappy heir home lives are, which binds them together in unexpected ways, despite their polar opposite personalities.The friendship of these new best friends is threatened when Taylor's abusive ex-boyfriend shows up. Will Taylor and Lily's friendship survive him?
80 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2015
I found this story too abrupt and somewhat boring. The characters weren't developed enough for me to grow attached to them. Also, I didn't like the chapters' alternating narrators, because I thought it disrupted the book's flow. I could see how some teens might like this book because of the dark topic, but I think there are much better books out there concerning abusive relationships.
Profile Image for Jessica .
542 reviews25 followers
September 27, 2014
Intense, close-up look at partner violence between young characters. Brutal, straightforward, but not completely without hope - reminded me much of a teen version of What Jamie Saw, both in content and in style. Whipped through this one very quickly. Definitely recommended.
42 reviews3 followers
November 3, 2013
Good writing and characterization, sometimes rare in YA fiction, but a bit preachy about domestic violence. Reluctant readers will stay interested because the action doesn't let up, and the dialogue is authentic.
Profile Image for T.M. Carper.
Author 15 books17 followers
December 30, 2014
This book tackles abuse, but it's confusing as to who is related to who and the voice of the writer doesn't make it easy. I made it to page 30 but I just didn't get into it.

Borrow, don't buy and decide for yourself.
Profile Image for Christa Yoshimoto.
8 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2013
A raw YA novel about partner and domestic violence. A powerful read.

Coming from Groundwood in September 2013.
Profile Image for Julia.
42 reviews
October 5, 2013
Powerful and real, but also reads so quickly that it couldn't build characters as much as I would have hoped. Also, a bazillion trigger warnings for violence, rape, abuse.
Profile Image for William.
198 reviews2 followers
October 13, 2013
Important message about abusive relationships, but a chore to finish (and it isn't even very long).
Profile Image for Catie Rogers.
39 reviews1 follower
November 22, 2013
I think it was amazing book, you really have to be In a certain mind set to read it. cause you wont wanna put it down.
Profile Image for Diane Henry.
555 reviews8 followers
January 8, 2014
A harsh, grim book with a slightly unrealistic (though still grim) plot element. This was tough to read.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
589 reviews
October 21, 2014
2.5 I didn't give it 3 because I didn't think the ending was developed well and it just ended with blah
Profile Image for Cassie Bentley-Bradshaw.
234 reviews17 followers
June 19, 2014
I can appreciate what the book was attempting to do, but it was boring. I can't decide if this is worth purchasing for my classroom library. Maybe Ss will like it?
Profile Image for Lucy.
185 reviews12 followers
June 25, 2014
Heavy-handed treatment of domestic and dating violence.
Profile Image for Olivia.
3 reviews8 followers
July 13, 2014
50% of this book is descriptions of the characters smoking.
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews

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