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Thicker Than Water

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Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

307 pages, Hardcover

First published January 5, 2016

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Kelly Fiore Stultz

7 books141 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 171 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,727 reviews1,279 followers
December 11, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“I regret being born.”

This was an interesting mystery story, featuring prescription drug abuse.

It was clear that CeCe felt really guilty in this story, even though she hadn’t forced her brother to overdose, she really did blame herself for his death, and it was obvious that she felt she deserved to be punished. Her brother Cyrus on the other hand, was a serious drug addict.

The storyline in this was about CeCe’s trial over her brother’s death, as well as the mystery over exactly what happened. I could see why CeCe took the path she did though, as watching her brother destroy their family must have been really hard for her.
There was a little bit of romance in this, but not a lot.

The ending to this was pretty satisfying, and I liked the way that things were resolved.

7 out of 10
Profile Image for Kels.
315 reviews165 followers
May 16, 2016
"Denial isn't a river, it's a refuge. It's where you go for answers when the truth is a) too upsetting, b) too far-fetched, or c) too ugly."

I'm really torn in my rating. A part of me feels like I should give this book at least four stars because it's meticulously written with an authenticity that feels so refreshingly believable and brutally honest. But then another part of me had a few problems with the text that made it hard for me to get into.

One of my biggest issues had to be the romance. There isn't a love triangle featured in this novel, but there are two romances that occurs months apart with the main character, Cece. The first romance with Lucas was a messy obsession, but given consideration to what Cece was going through at the time, I understood why it was presented that way. The second romance with Tucker was such a huge disappointment for me. It was entirely unnecessary and evolved in two-second, insta-love fashion. Like seriously, it felt so out of place as if it was squeezed in as an afterthought. It was really distracting, and it heavily overshadowed Cece's plight while she was in the correctional facility. I don't understand why the author felt the need to add a second romance, but I would have much preferred if Tucker would have remained a friend.

The second issue I had was the pacing. This book isn't a long one, but it dragged so much. I could tell that the author placed heavy focus on building up the setting and plot, but I felt she failed to consider the overall tempo of the novel. And sure, the writing was beautiful, but it didn't take me anywhere emotionally. I was so disconnected for some reason, and I think it may have had to do with the pacing but more so with the writing, which I found beautiful at times but there's just a monotone rhythm to it. If anyone is familiar with the Gary Provost quote about writing text that sings, then you know what I'm talking about.

With all that said, I still think that this is a poignant and heart-achingly told story about the toll that drug abuse takes not just on the abuser, but also the family. This was one of the better books that displayed it in such a realistic--although drastic--way, and I certainly closed this book with a new and enlightening perspective on the topic.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,483 reviews903 followers
January 11, 2016
I liked (with a few tiny quibbles) this story of a girl accused of being responsible for her brother's death. I liked CeCe as a character and stayed interested as the story slowly doled out the puzzle pieces of the circumstances that led to the downward spiral of her family and brought her to trial. Though I'm not often a fan of the flashback-flashforward method of storytelling, I thought it worked really well in this book. I could always tell if I was in the past or the present, and I think it helped build suspense. The family relationships in the story were well-drawn and, at times, pretty heartbreaking. There's a touch of romance that some may feel is misplaced, but I liked the way that the story shows CeCe being involved in one ill-fated relationship and another that has some promise.

The minor issue I had was

Still, Thicker Than Water is a very topical book about troubled family relationships and the fact that addiction is something that can happen to anyone.

Read more of my reviews on YA Romantics or follow me on Bloglovin

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free advance copy of this book for me to review.
Profile Image for Amanda (Fandomly Bookish).
430 reviews253 followers
February 20, 2016
Rating: 4.5 stars

I remember feeling brave when I requested this title to HarperCollins International a few weeks back in December. Family tragedy, drug addiction and the mention of Ellen Hopkins’ name are three things that I don’t want to go along together in a book for the sole reason of me knowing that it would break my poor heart into pieces. But hey on the flipside, those are actually the three things that captured my attention and encouraged me to request and review it. It made me curious if Kelly Fiore will also make my mind spin and cause conflict inside of me, like what Hopkins did to me back when I read Identical.

Well, Fiore did.

For me, Thicker Than Water was a tough read. The book was written through Cecelia Price’s (suspect for her brother’s death) point of view and alternates from the past and present. The situations that Cecelia’s family went through were events that us, real living people experience too. Like someone in the family getting injured, hitting rock bottom, being placed in circumstances where you need to heavily weigh in the decisions that you make in life and ending up doing some sacrifices for our family. Easy right, we all can relate to that. But then enters the drug addiction element of the story which takes it to another level. A level wherein we have an idea of its existence but I think most of us don’t have an experience witnessing someone who has it. Through the numbered pages of this book Fiore made me experience and witness not only one person but an entire family crumble to pieces because of drug addiction. Fiore’s writing gripped my heart and drew me in. She didn’t need those poetic and big words to present us her story; she only needed to slap her readers with what the truth is and let the rawness of everything flow into her writing.

“Regret forces us to relive the moments we hate the most – the moments that drove us into spiralling downfalls, the moments where we stopped living and started surviving.”

Cecelia Price, may be overwhelmed by the events that lead to Cyrus’ (her brother) death but there wasn’t a single moment wherein I doubted if Cecelia is in the right frame of mind. She isn’t crazy. She’s honest. She’s guilty. She knows she did something wrong, acknowledges it and knows that she deserves to be punished for it. Actually, I admire her for those things and I do think all of us should aim to be her. Even if she knows that her life and name will be permanently marked by this single event, she didn’t even dare to deny her involvement to it.

Her guilt, regret and honesty are inked through the pages of this book. You can read it. You can feel it.

“You can regret the actions of others. At least, when they’re responsible for your actions. When your actions are just reactions.”

She’s one those of characters in YA novels wherein she is stuck in the middle and whichever option she chooses, she’ll just end up being in the wrong. It was definitely a hard position to be in – just imagine her mind working over time to come up with solutions and decisions but in the end still felt stuck. With everything going on and out of desperation, she ended up doing something wrong but then justifying her action, in favor of what she has done towards Cyrus’ situation. She also thought that it could be a temporary solution to their money problem. What she didn’t know is that, one step in (a wrong and stupid move at that) and she’ll get sucked into the world of drugs.

My heart also goes out to her for feeling that there was a need for her to shoulder all the blame for this tragic event. Not that pointing fingers will do any good but I do think, Cyrus, their father, step-mom and her have their fair share of being at fault in what happened. But most especially I have this rage directed towards their father for turning a blind-eye and filtering what he only wants to see and their step-mom for being so passive and not caring as to what’s becoming and happening to Cyrus. From that enters the what ifs. What if their father acknowledged that something is wrong with Cyrus? What if their father did something to help Cyrus overcome his addiction? What if their step-mom at least tried to be an active member of their family? It’s an endless stream of what ifs that could have led to another ending – a happy and better one.

“…feeling inexplicably tattered from the inside out. Or maybe not tattered. Maybe just broken into pieces, with half those pieces missing. My dad. My mom. My brother. All my broken, jagged parts are completely unrecognizable compared to the person I used to be and the family I used to be a member of.”

One big check mark and thumbs up on how Fiore handled the romance department of her book. Yes, there’s romance in this one too and I’m glad and satisfied with it. It was there. It was sweet. It didn’t overpower or take away the focus from what the real conflict (story) is. It came across as something that balances the elements of the story and somewhat an ice-breaker from all the heaviness that drug addiction brought in. I also love the fact that Fiore included two romantic relationships for Cecelia (a past and a present) and showed the differences as to where and how those relationships were rooted.

“I don’t have anything to say that will make you feel any better. I can’t give you anything but me. But, for what it’s worth, you have all of me that’s left.”

Thicker Than Water is a book about guilt, regret, honesty and brings out the message how drug addiction not only endanger one person but everybody that is surrounding him/her. It claws in, roots itself very deep and can eventually tear a whole family apart, just like what happened with Cecelia’s. This is a book that I would gladly recommend to parents to remind them and impose more on how important their role in the family is – with or without drug addiction involved. As to the issue at hand, I think that best way to tackle it is through the italicized words in my what ifs that I’ve enlisted above – acknowledge that there really is a problem, help that person to overcome the addiction and to be an active participant.

“Sometimes we start living lives we never expected to live. Other times we pick up where one life left off. In the end, it’s not about where you came from, but where you’re going.”

This review is also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Kim at Divergent Gryffindor.
470 reviews131 followers
November 29, 2015
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Author's writing style = more than perfect!! <3

"Regret forces us to relieve the moments we hate the most - the moments that drove us into spiraling downfalls, the moments where we stopped living and started surviving."

When I first read the synopsis of Thicker Than Water, I was really curious about it but I didn't really want to read it because I feared that it would clash with my morals and I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate it. I initially didn't want to request it, but I saw that many others wanted to read it as well, so I decided, why not request it as well? I'll just see if I get approved or not. And then I got approved by HarperCollins, and gosh, am I so thankful for it!

"Sometimes we have to start living the lives we never expected to live. Other times we pick up where one life left off. In the end, it's not about where you came from, but where you're going."

Thicker Than Water is such an amazing book filled with meaning, honesty and a unique journey. For me, it showed a very realistic and honest story. I don't know what it's like to have a family member who is a drug addict, but it just felt so real to me. It wasn't just realistic, it was real. Of course when I got finished the book and read the author's note, everything made sense - the author indeed is telling the truth because she has experienced this herself.

"Sometimes the picture you paint is more important than the life you're living."

Aside from it being very real, what I really liked about the book is the author's writing style. My gosh! The words that Kelly Fiore used to string those sentences made even the most meaningless ones meaningful. The best part? Everything seemed natural, not forced or poem-like, but it definitely sounded melodic. I wanted to highlight everything, even if it didn't mean anything.

"In the end, you don't give a shit what happens to me as long as it doesn't change what happens to you."

I really liked the story and how everything progressed and unravelled, even though Thicker Than Water is not like anything that I've ever read before. I also liked how the main character, Cecilia, never once sounded juvenile, despite being the right to because she is in fact still a teenager. She never once became whiny and always owned up to the consequences of her actions. For that, I admire her.

"When we have to jump,
we take a deep breath,

close our eyes
and count to three."

I seriously did not expect to love this book as much as I did, but surprise, surprise! I loved the story and the author's writing style! I really recommend this very real book filled with honesty and lots of beautiful quotes.
Profile Image for Gaby (lookingatbooks).
435 reviews428 followers
February 12, 2016
Gorgeously written!

I've never read a book on addiction, unless you count Sarah Dessen's Dreamland. Which I absolutely despised. So this was more of a first for me. Although I first hand have seen drug addiction, so I understood this book more than the passerby.
The author stressed the point, that family members and friends closest to the drug addicted, are victims. Victims of their loved ones horrible habits. And Cecelia Price was the number one victim in this book.

Plot: CeCelia Price killed her brother, Cyrus. Or at least that's what the district attorney is saying. But only CeCe knows what a drug addled mess Cyrus had become after injuring his knee in soccer. And how her father had turned his back and ignored it all. So CeCe sold her brother's drugs. It seemed like a good idea until slowly everything around her changed. Leading up to the fateful day, Cyrus died. Was it CeCe's fault? Told in alternating time periods, you slowly begin to comprehend the real reason why CeCelia Price did what she did.

CeCe was a character willowing away quietly. No one saw her, not her father, not her brother, and not her friends. After the death of her mother, things had been hard on the family leaving CeCe, depressed. All she had left was a brother and a father who both drifted away. Her father remarried and her brother went hard at soccer. Until Cyrus injured his knee and became addicted to OxyContin. CeCelia ultimately became the target, when Cyrus, in a drug induced state, was physically and verbally abusive to her. Creating a line between the two siblings. Which ultimately became the reason CeCe stole his drugs and sold them.

There was a cliche in this book. But it's the most common cliche, CeCe's father never noticed his son's addiction. Not until it had gotten bad. But isn't that always the case? No parent wants to see their kid in any other way than perfect. So her father denied it, never listened to CeCe even when it was apparent that Cyrus was addicted. And it's the true story of any person with a child addicted to drugs. Most often, you don't figure it out till it's too late. And you wonder, like CeCe made a point of in the book, how one doesn't notice their kid or friend acting weird and doing things unusual to their normal habits?

The alternating points in this book focused on CeCelia Price three months before she was arrested and then her reality happening now. You had the chance to understand the story of how CeCe became a drug dealer. Which were all events leading up to the moment she sold Cyrus's drugs. But it was a cause and effect scenario. Had CeCe's father realized how bad it had gotten with her brother, it might not have happened. There's all these what if's, but every action every person in her family took, lead up to CeCelia Price selling her brother's drugs and ultimately having a part in her brother's death. It wasn't just her fault, it was everyone's fault. Most importantly Cyrus's. Because they were all victims of a person addicted to drugs. Which was what the author tried to convey the whole book.

I believe the author's own experiences took over in the writing of this book, and she portrayed her pain in the main character, CeCelia. Which made a very open story on drug addiction and portrayed it from a person who had dealt with it for years from the very person closest to her, her brother. I highly recommend reading this book! The writing is a dream and the story is one of a kind.

5 stars!
Profile Image for Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries).
1,225 reviews391 followers
February 12, 2021
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher via Edelweiss.
*CeCe’s roommate Aarti is Indian
*CeCe's brother is a drug addict
*CeCe’s family is quite poor; borderline poverty

Well, this review only got put off for two months by my lazy ass. Oops. Part of it’s because having only online classes is surprisingly difficult, but the other part is because I didn’t know what to say. Thicker Than Water tapped into something very personal to me and made me realize how I could have been CeCe if I lived in a different situation.

Almost everything that makes me look back fondly on Thicker Than Water is related to her brother’s drug addiction and what it does to her family. It’s all very well-drawn and her decisions, while so dumb that you’re screaming for her to stop before things go south, are reasonable through her point of view and not something I can say I would never do in her position. In a different life, I’d be her. No doubt whatsoever about that. Up until the ending, it revels in handling its difficult characters and situation with care. CeCe’s status as an unreliable narrator just makes things even better.

My brother’s debilitating injuries weren’t acquired via sports, but years of jumping from the top step on our staircase to the bottom messed up his back and knee badly. His chiropractor he’d never seen anything so bad in someone so young (he was 22 then) and he typically saw those issues in veteran paratroopers. He’s been going to a chiropractor every other week for almost four years now and had surgery last year to get calcium deposits scraped off his knee.

As I’m sure you can imagine, he got some powerful painkillers and muscle relaxers to help him deal with all the pain. Thicker Than Water made me more thankful than ever that he didn’t get addicted to his pills. Instead, he relies on smoking marijuana daily to cope with the pain. The smell of the drug makes me feel nauseated just from the smell, but it could be so, so much worse. If we were poor like CeCe’s family, if his drug of choice were more addictive and dangerous,…

So yeah, this book tapped right into my heart and messed me up. I sat around on the first day having a crisis because of this book and that’s a surprisingly good thing. It strikes me as the kind of book that would have done the same to me even if I didn’t have a brother who could have been Cyrus.

What disappointed me most was the ending. We know from the very beginning that CeCe claims she killed her brother, which is meant to make readers wonder if she directly, intentionally did so or if she just feels guilty for doing so indirectly. An unreliable narrator like CeCe only works if readers are constantly questioning what the narrator claims, but there’s no need to question it here because the answer is so obvious. Had the punches been fully thrown instead of pulled at the last second, the powerful nature of Thicker Than Water would have carried through to the end instead of dissolving with that one final twist.

Would I read more from Fiore? I don’t know. Reviews for her books are pretty mixed, but if a book with her name on it has a great premise, I won’t turn away from it just because of this book. You want this? Go for it.
Profile Image for Christy.
621 reviews258 followers
March 14, 2016
This review was originally posted on Novel Ink

I have been so excited to read this book.  I mean, did you read the first sentence in that synopsis? If not, let me provide it for you:

Cecelia Price killed her brother.

Intriguing, isn't it? I thought so.  But, let me tell you, the whole story is much more enthralling.  Kelly Fiore takes us on a rollercoaster of a ride with Cecelia's story.  I will warn you though, there are some serious topics presented in this book.  Things like drugs, jail and a mental facility.  However, it is all portrayed so realistically and I applaud Fiore for that.

I'm not going to go into a deep summary of the book, that's what the synopsis is for.  Instead, I'm going to break down what I liked about it.

›› Cecelia - I really felt a connection with her, despite that opening sentence in the synopsis.  I feel like everything she felt was so raw and honest.  She made some mistakes but I feel like by the end of the book she really learned from them and was trying to make the best of a bad situation.

›› Formatting - I loved the fact that this book was told in past and present.  I feel like it added a little something extra to the book and it let us get to know Cecelia before and after.

›› Dark Issues - As morbid as that may sound, I really love books that deal with the tougher topics in life.  Mostly because life isn't always sunshine and butterflies.  Some days it's hard and these books reflect that.    Also, I apparently like getting my heart broken cause I keep picking these types of books up.

 The last thing I need to do here is start seeing something beautiful in the disaster around me.

Profile Image for Jasi.
419 reviews28 followers
July 4, 2015
Als Cecilia ihren Bruder Cyrus tot im Keller, gestorben an einer Überdosis Schmerzmittel, auffindet setzt sie den Notruf ab und beschuldigt sich selbst. Seit dem Tod ihrer Mutter an Krebs, hat ihre Familie große familiäre Probleme und ihr Vater verschließt die Augen vor Cyrus Medikamentensucht. Als letzte Möglichkeit beginnt Cecelia mit Medikamenten zu dealen, um die Familie zu retten.

Am Anfang des Buches befindet sie sich gerade in einer Art Psychatrie, in der sie lernen soll ihre schlimme Vergangenheit zu verarbeiten. Doch eigentlich ist es nur ein Zwischenstop und Lückenfüller bis zum Prozess, der über Cecelias weiteres Leben entscheiden wird. Da sich die Kapitel immer mit Gegenwart und Vergangenheit abwechseln, erfährt man welches Leid Cecelia, die im Buch CeCe genannt wird, miterleben musste. Mich hat das alles sehr erschrocken und mitgenommen, besonders da Cecilia eine sehr aufmerksame Beobachterin ist und ihr gesehendes schonungslos erzählt.

In diesem Buch finden sich viele Themen zusammen: Drogen, Geldprobleme, Verlust und einen großen Teil nimmt auch der Prozess ein. Ich habe schon einige Drogenbücher gelesen, aber bis jetzt konnten mich nur wenige begeistern, da dieses schwere Thema manchmal sehr oberflächlich behandelt wird. Hier allerdings, wurde mir die fürchterliche Auswirkung eines Medikamentenmissbrauches sehr nahe gebracht. Manchmal hätte ich gerne die Augen geschlossen und das Buch pausiert, weil mir so viele Gedanken gleichzeitig durch den Kopf schoßen, doch gleichzeitig wollte ich auch nicht aufhören zu lesen, da es wirklich sehr spannend geschrieben ist.

CeCe war hier als Protagonistin genau richtig. Man merkt sehr gut wie stark sie sich in diesem Buch verändern musste. In den Vergangenheits-Kapiteln merkte man noch dass sie ein liebes, fleißiges Mädchen ist, doch das harte Leben hat sie immer mehr abgestumpft und der Vergleich zu CeCe beim Prozess ist gewaltig!

Ein schockierend ehrliches Buch, das mir sehr nahe gegangen ist und eine wichtige Botschaft enthält. Mir hat es unglaublich gut gefallen in CeCe's Kopf zu blicken und der harten Wahrheit des Lebens gegenüberzustehen.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,101 reviews130 followers
October 24, 2015
I've loved Kelly Fiore's books since I read Taste Test, and this is easily her best one. (No offense to the others.) Those are just incredibly fun, sweet, fast reads and this one broke my heart.

CeCe carries around a lot of guilt for her brother Cy's death and as a result, she doesn't do that much work to participate in her own defense. (We learn the exact circumstances of his death toward the end of the book, but we know that whatever it is, her involvement was enough to land her in legal trouble).

This book absolutely gutted me. It's so easy to feel guilty for things that aren't your fault, but what CeCe was feeling...without going into specifics, let me just say that Kelly Fiore makes you absolutely feel everything CeCe does and will also give you so much empathy for every character in the book (even CeCe; even Cy).

Highly, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,651 reviews161 followers
January 19, 2016
This was a very good but very tough book to read. I feel like there isn't a person out there that hasn't had their life affected by addiction.
For me, I remember the friends in high school on the 'meth' diet to stay so so thin. I remember the hushed conversations about parents that drank too much. I remember the O.D. The drunk driving accident.

So this book is something that I think can reach everyone. It just hits a nerve we all instinctively have and is just tough enough to make reading it not 100% enjoyable. But it's an interesting story and a very scary, real, well done look at a family with an addict where some members don't want to face it and some know all too well the violence, frustration and anger that is living with an addict.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,401 followers
July 25, 2016
I beta read this one quite a while ago, and I can't wait to read it again. It completely knocked me on my ass, and was so unexpectedly dark after the author's first two books, but also seriously freaking great.
Profile Image for Kelly Gunderman.
Author 3 books76 followers
January 5, 2016
Check out this and other reviews on my young adult book blog, Here's to Happy Endings!

When I picked up this book, I wasn't really sure what I was expecting. I knew it was about a girl who was in trouble with the law for the death of her brother. I knew it was about addiction. I knew it was about a family that had been torn apart. But what I didn't expect was such a gut-wrenching, emotional reading experience. Thicker Than Water is haunting and heartbreaking - and it shows off the pains of being left in the dust of a family member who is suffering from addiction.

Cecelia is in a behavioral correction facility where she undergoes group therapies, individual therapies, and tries to get herself ready for her hearing. After being in county lockup, she is lucky for this chance. While she finds cooperating with her public defender, Jennifer, a little difficult (she wants to keep to herself), and she rarely shares anything in group, she's lost in her grief, pain, and the situation that landed her in the facility.

Cecelia, or CeCe, believes she is responsible for the death of her brother, Cyrus, and told authorities that she had killed him. So while Jennifer is working to try and prove that CeCe hadn't actually been the one to kill her brother, CeCe is adamant that she deserves to be punished for what she did.

Thicker Than Water tells the story of Cecelia before and after the death of her brother. There are chapters of the present day, with CeCe getting ready for her hearing and in Piedmont Behavioral, and then there are chapters told a few months prior to Cyrus's death - when he began getting addicted to OxyContin, and the aftermath of his addiction. The chapters alternate...and this was a brilliant way to narrate the story, because it gives us a peek into what CeCe's life was like before and after.

Getting attached to CeCe was easy, as her character was so well written and it was hard not to feel sorry for her as you read her story about her brother's harrowing drug addiction, and what it did to their family. Having already lost her mother to breast cancer a few years earlier, CeCe had to watcher another family member that she loved disappear right in front of her - only by something that could have easily been prevented. When Cyrus starts stealing money to pay for his doctor visits for more pills, CeCe does the only thing she knows she can do to help keep the family afloat - she starts stealing small amounts, and then larger amounts, of his medications, and selling them to save up for bills and her college education.

If you've witnessed addiction in your family or with friends, than you will easily relate to the emotions and problems that CeCe and her family face, and how difficult it was for her to sit back and watch her brother slowly destroy not only himself, but all of them.

I think this is one of those books that absolutely should be picked up at some point. Thicker Than Water is a powerful, moving novel that you won't soon forget.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alisha Marie.
848 reviews78 followers
March 30, 2016
I so expected to love Thicker Than Water. I love contemporary YA. I tend to be more impress with contemporary YA than with every other fantasy/paranormal/dystopian YA novel that's the IT book. Plus, Thicker Than Water was dark. And if there's one thing I like more than contemporary YA is dark, angsty as shit, contemporary YA. And while I did get all of this, I was still not in love.

The Good: Thicker Than Water was an engaging read. And as someone who is still suffering from the ass end of a reading slump and is still slightly feeling its edges, I was relieved by this. I read this in one sitting and was interested all the way through. I also liked that Thicker Than Water didn't skimp out on the darkness and angst. I kept expecting it to lighten up, but it didn't.

The Eh: I'm not a huge fan of romance. But I can deal with it. What I dislike more than a romance is an unnecessary romance. And the romance between Cece and Tucker was just plain unnecessary. I get why we had the romance between her and Lucas as it was supposed to serve as a catalyst to something bigger. But I have yet to see a reason for Cece and Tucker to be together. It's not like she gained some incredible insight on her life and/or her situation by being with him. So, I'm inclined to believe that the romance was just there because it's YA and if there isn't any romance, there will be riots.

More Eh: Cece's murder charge. Once I was privy to what really happened with Cecelia and her brother, I rolled my eyes. Sorry, but I've seen enough Law & Order: SVU to know that she should've (and would've in real life) been charged with manslaughter. And that murder charge made Thicker Than Water completely unrealistic. Another thing that bothered me was that once we find out about what really happened, we then get another flashback chapter with Cece first coming to behavioral therapy. And I have yet to figure out what the purpose of that was. The book starts with Cece already in BT, so why do we have to read about her first coming to BT when it doesn't serve a greater purpose other than padding the book?

Overall, I wasn't that impressed with Thicker Than Water. There were too many things that just made me pause. Plus, it's just not that memorable. When I start looking through my year of books in December, I have a very strong feeling that I'll forget what transpired in this book. It just didn't provide that emotional punch that a book like this needs to. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great, it was just okay.
Profile Image for Hannah (jellicoereads).
792 reviews152 followers
January 11, 2016
This is a book about a series of bad decisions. Bad decisions that end up in a downwards spiral towards tragedy. But it was a well-written read nevertheless, taking a look at family relationships, drug addition and teen rehabilitation.

What Cece does is wrong, no doubt about it, but there’s certainly a pervasive sense of unfairness that she is the one that takes all the blame, whilst the rich kids who bought from her, and the doctor who prescribed the pills, emerge scott-free. It’s also an interesting judgement of society where tertiary education is an unattainable privilege for many, and not a right easily accessed.

Regret forces us to relive the moments we hate the most – the moments that drove us into spiralling downfalls, the moments where we stopped living and started surviving.

The book also showcases how addiction can so completely transform someone you know into someone unrecognisable. And quite apart from the drug aspect, we get insight into rather screwed up family dynamics – a talented elder child around whom the family is centered, a mother who dies of illness, a step-mother who is only distantly involved, a father who refuses to see anything wrong, and the tensions and problems that money shortages bring.

I did have a few qualms, namely the fact that the court case focuses on the fact of her brother’s death, more than the issue of her selling and dealing – which seems strange, considering the fact that she was directly responsible for the latter, but not the former. And again, the fact that Cece is the one taking the blame, despite everyone who facilitated the transactions – well, I guess that’s the (American) justice system for you?

Sad, hard-hitting but not sentimental, Thicker Than Water is a dark contemporary about one family’s utter disintegration.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.
Profile Image for Inah (Fueled By Chapters).
478 reviews114 followers
March 6, 2016
For some reason, I was stuck in a rut while reading this book. While I did enjoy reading it, it's full of dark themes which made me put down the book countless of times not because I don't like it, but it really made me feel heavy.

The book tells about the story of Cecelia Price or CeCe, and how her life drastically changed because of her brother, Cyrus. From a straight A student, Cece learned how to deal drugs to help her family.

I would say that this book was a tragic story. CeCe had so much potential in her to have just fallen into drug-dealing. The consequences of her actions had affected her greatly. But I couldn't really blame her for that. See, this was a great book that not only dealt about drug abuse, it also greatly dealt with family relationships and friendship and it was beautifully written. The story was so raw and real, I could feel the emotions coming off the pages.

Overall, the book had an impact on me. I loved the way the story was written and told in an alternating timeline. It added depth to the story and character developments. It's a really good book which dealt with drug addiction and loss. It may be triggering for some, but I definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Gail.
401 reviews12 followers
March 23, 2021
We picked this for our book club based on the jacket description, but the story wasn't up to my usual standards. The main character had an overexaggerated guilt complex, the dad was annoying, and the brother's dive into addiction went surprisingly quickly (like, wasn't described in the book). I hate leaving not-so-positive reviews but I, and my teens, were a little let down with this one.
Profile Image for Lisa (lifeinlit).
695 reviews461 followers
January 6, 2016
Going into Thicker Than Water I had no idea what to expect. I hadn't read the synopsis in many months and basically went into this blind. Right off the bat I knew I was going to like this story due to the criminal/court aspects of the story. After working in that field for over 14 years, I'm consistently drawn into stories that address the legal side, including court appearances, trials, even the criminal activity and treatment thereof. It's a topic that I'm always interested in, so I was happy to get that vibe from the first chapter.

“Denial isn't a river, it's a refuge. It's where you go for answers when the truth is a) too upsetting, b) too far-fetched, or c) too ugly.”

CeCe is a wonderful student with a bright future ahead of her... until she finds herself in a treatment facility after being arrested for her brother's murder. CeCe and her bother, Cyrus, used to be extremely close. As a successful soccer star in their high school, he had dreams of being huge... until he gets a knee injury and is forced out of soccer for a while. This injury also lands him in the care of a doctor who treats his injury with pain killers... pain killers that Cyrus quickly starts abusing, and that which turn him into a completely different person.

Thicker Than Water is told through the point of view of CeCe. But what makes this book even better is the fact that the chapters switch back and forth between the present day, when CeCe is in treatment after her arrest, and the past few months before everything in her life changed. The back and forth was one of the best I've seen. It was flawless and added a whole new level to this otherwise extremely depressing and heartbreaking story.

“That's something I'd always admire about my brother, my role model. He could forget being hurt in favor of being happy.”

This story was a lot sadder and harder to read than I first expected. Seeing characters going through such a difficult issue, such as drug abuse, was definitely eye-opening and hard to stomach. The way they feel within themselves, the way they affect the lives of everyone around them, and the way their behavior makes waves in the lives of everyone around them is so heartbreaking. Drug abuse is a topic that's extremely difficult for me to read, as it breaks my heart to watch anyone, fictional or otherwise, go through such a life-changing illness. This story was no different, given how real it felt and how accurate the lives of these characters was portrayed.

(Thanks to HarperTeen for the review copy!)

Find this review and others like it at Lost in Literature!


Profile Image for Katie.
291 reviews14 followers
August 8, 2016
This was a book that was dark and had morally complex characters. It was a book that made it easy to root for a character even when she did things that were wrong and even illegal. It dealt with tough issues of addiction to and use of prescription drugs. There were complex relationships between family members. Nothing in this book was just easy and simple. I also liked how this book alternated past and present timelines so that the full story unraveled throughout the book.

CeCe is in behavioral therapy at a juvenile center awaiting a hearing to see if she will be convicted or acquitted for being responsible for her brother's death. She blames herself for his death, but is she really fully responsible? If one gave someone the weapon that killed them, is that person responsible for the death that follows? The book deals with these tough questions. Because they really are tough questions. I'm not fully sure what my opinion is on the answers to these questions. But I do feel that CeCe was not fully responsible for her brother's death. She is not blame-free though. She made bad choices. Illegal choices, in fact. She got wrapped up in something that wasn't good for her because she thought it would help her make some money. It was hard to watch her make choices that I knew would come back and hurt her later.

Cyrus, CeCe's brother, was a drug addict. It was hard to see his downward spiral, and to watch CeCe try to tell her dad while he lived in denial. It showed how tough it would be to have a family member succumbing to drug addiction and feel almost helpless to do anything about it. When Cy got clean, it was sad, because as the reader, I already knew he was going to end up dead, so that wasn't going to last.

There is a small romance, but it is not a big part of the story. It is sweet, though, and the boy is good for CeCe, since he really cares about her and wants her to be better. He's in the same juvenile facility, so he has things in his past too, but he really seems to be a genuinely good guy.

If you like dark YA contemporary, read this book.
Profile Image for Katy Upperman.
Author 4 books307 followers
January 29, 2016
This one was high on my most-anticipated of 2016 list, and it did not disappoint. It's a story of addiction and the toll it takes on an already floundering family. CeCe Price's big brother, Cyrus, has been hooked on OxyContin since suffering a soccer injury. He used to be CeCe's hero, but now he's something of a tragedy -- lying and manipulating, abusing CeCe, stealing from their father, disappearing for long stretches of time. Money's tight in the Price household and, thanks to an unfortunate but seemingly unavoidable series of events, CeCe begins dealing pills she's filched from her brother. Cyrus ends up dead and CeCe's accused of his murder and this story... it makes me sad, sad, sad. I have experience with an addicted family member, and Kelly Fiore's narrative hit hard. Her depictions are unflinching, devastating in their accuracy, and, thanks to the novel's before/after format, there's a sense of inevitability that makes it hard to put down. CeCe is easy to relate to (even if you haven't encountered addiction first hand, I think), and even while she stands trial for killing her brother, she's incredibly sympathetic. I haven't read anything quite like Thicker Than Water before, and its authenticity impressed me. Definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of dark, hard-hitting YA.
Profile Image for Whitney.
502 reviews45 followers
May 6, 2016
I had wanted to read this book since before it came out. I finally got my hands on a copy. Typically when I buy a book I carry it around and look at it for a bit before I read it. I read this book in 2 days after receiving it. I probably would have had it read it sooner but it turns out that when you have a kid, your time isn't your own anymore, but I digress. This book was everything I had hoped it would be. As someone that has struggled with addiction, I knew there was a chance that this book wouldn't feel authentic. While reading it, I knew that the author had to of struggled with addiction or had close contact with someone in her life that had. After reading the book, she explained who and a brief outcome of what happened. But back to the book, there were only one or two things that I wish the author would have covered more. But it was only stories that were just on the side. It wasn't anything about the main story. There were times, I wanted to shake Cecilia's dad. And I actually screamed, "NO, what are you thinking?!" out loud, at a book, for a character's bone head decision. This book won't be for everyone. It just happened to hit home for me. If you've ever known anyone that has struggled with an addiction or had to deal with a loved one's addiction then you would probably enjoy this read.
Profile Image for Liz.
873 reviews185 followers
September 26, 2019
I like the idea of this book. I think the premise is good, and I think it's important that the author goes after a tough topic.

I struggled with a few elements of the ending, specifically
Profile Image for Ella.
568 reviews108 followers
December 8, 2015
Looks like I'm the black sheep here, but this book and I did NOT get on. Reading this was almost painful, and I was so relived when it was over.
1 review
June 8, 2018
This book was very intriguing from the start because it talked about how everyone thought Cecelia Price was responsible for killing her brother, Cyrus, but that wasn't the case. Although she blamed herself, little hints are dropped throughout the book that prove she did not actually murder him. I did not like how the chapters were all mixed up going from present day and then back two or three months. For instance, I think that the chapter that talks about the day Cyrus died should have been placed way earlier in the book to help the reader understand what actually happened. Even though not knowing how he died made me keep wondering and reading it was more confusing than anything else.

While Cecelia awaits her trial day, she is placed in Behavioral Therapy where she learns to let people in and gets comfortable with sharing her feelings. I think that even though she didn't really deserve to be there for supposedly killing Cyrus, it still changed her and made her a better person. Some of the parts when she was in BT were kind of boring because they got repetitive. For example, there are many times where everyone meets and they're all questioned about things like what they did, if they regret it, etc. I found parts like these unnecessary because they happened about five to six times throughout the book and repeating them just seemed like a way to make the book longer.

When her trial approaches, Cecelia is still blaming herself for her brother’s death even though it has been proven that she is not. I think that when they proved she wasn't guilty for killing him it was done well and at the right time because if it had been said any earlier it wouldn't have made me want to keep reading. In the end, she accepts the fact that it isn’t her fault and moves on to start a new chapter in her life with new friends. Overall, I would recommend this book because it’s very interesting and there is always something going on to make you want to keep reading. The only thing I didn’t like was the order the chapters were in because it felt like they were all mixed up. I think that the author did a really good job with descriptive details and creating a very interesting plot though which is why I decided to rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jeanie Phillips.
454 reviews7 followers
April 15, 2017
Compelling, gritty, and heart breaking. CeCe gets caught up in the spiral of her brother's OxyContin addiction and her family's denial and compromises her own future. Readers of Ellen Hopkin's books will love this.
Profile Image for Nuzaifa.
140 reviews177 followers
January 5, 2016
THE REVIEW - For more reviews, please visit wordcontessa.com

> 15 MILLION - The number of people in the US ALONE who abuse prescription drugs.
50% - The percentage of young adults who believe that prescription drugs are much safer than illegal street drugs.
54.2% - The percentage of prescription drug users who get them free from a friend/relative.


As appalling as these stats are, they are also very real.

There's no denying that drug abuse is a prevalent issue among young adults so it is downright shocking to find out that very few YA books address drug and substance abuse.

So then why is that very few YA books talk about drug abuse? Perhaps the sensitivity and importance of this issue means that authors fear that they might sound either overly preachy or dismissive of it? This is definitely a valid fear because drug abuse is not something to be glorified, romanticized or used a mere plot device. Reading about difficult experiences and tough issues such as drug abuse (when properly portrayed) could give readers the power and knowledge required to reach out and get help to save a life.

Kelly Fiore's Thicker Than Water is based not just on the effects of prescription drug abuse on the user but it's effects on their loved ones too. Narrated by CeCe, most of the story is focused on her time at a correctional facility in the days leading up to her trial. Her life prior to her brother's death is shown in flashbacks that were integrated seamlessly with the present incidents. Ellen Hopkin's Crank deals with substance abuse from the POV of the addict herself. But like Carrie Arcos's Out of Reach, Kelly Fiore's Thicker Than Water portray substance abuse from the perspective of the user's sibling. This is incredibly important because both novels highlight how addiction is not just harmful to the user but also to those around them.

Cecelia Price killed her brother. Or at least that's what CeCe tells us at the beginning of this story. But until the very end we are not told of the exact circumstance of his death. There's no question that CeCe is a flawed character who has faced so much loss and betrayal but not everything is as it seems because her guilt makes her somewhat of an unreliable narrator. She makes some questionable choices and nothing will justify her actions but I couldn't help but root for her. Initially she refuses to accept help at the correctional facility but slowly opens up and shows great development as a character. Her interactions with her roommate, psych evaluator, public defender, therapy group, father and her love interest, Tucker felt real. Fiore's exquisite prose makes the reader feel everything CeCe did. Her guilt, resentment, anger, helplessness and inner struggles felt incredibly raw and I found myself utterly moved.

Fiore does a brilliant job in portraying the relationship between the protagonist and her sibling and the dysfunctional familial relationships. Cyrus was not simply depicted as the addict instead, Fiore shows his other side through flashbacks. Most of the time, the absence of a good support system at home is the root cause of deaths related to substance abuse. This was depicted well in Thicker Than Water where CeCe's father turning a blind eye resulted in enabling Cyrus's downward spiral. On the other hand, I found the romance in the novel to be problematic and completely unnecessary.

Thicker Than Water does not shy away from the horrors and brutalities of addiction. Every moment felt real and you find in the author's note that the book was inspired by the struggles faced by one of her own family members. One particular incident deals with abuse and I found it incredibly difficult to read. Prescription drug abuse, addiction and death is a reality for many people out there and Kelly Fiore does an outstanding job in portraying this horrible reality.

Despite my reservations regarding the romance, I don't Thicker Than Water is a story I'll be forgetting anytime soon.


4 Stars

“Sometimes we start living lives we never expected to live. Other times we pick up where one life left off. In the end, it’s not about where you came from, but where you are going”

“Death is never an answer. It’s an end result. It’s a finale. But it certainly doesn’t lay questions to rest. In fact, the only thing it lays to rest is people - and, even then. I’d replace the word lay with disintegrate.
And I’d replace word rest with dust.”


Thicker Than Water is an exceptionally powerful story of substance abuse and drug addiction - Don't miss out on this heartrending novel.


Crank - Ellen Hopkins
Clean - Amy Reed
Out of Reach - Carrie Arcos
Smack - Melvin Burgess

*Thanks to the publisher for providing a free advance copy of this book for me to review.
11 reviews2 followers
May 28, 2020
I really enjoyed this novel because it had so much in it and made me want to keep reading and reading more. I love books like that. It was filled with drama, worrisome, wholesome, mystery, and it showed readers the rough relationship between CeCe and Cyrus and all of the hardships they suffered through. I loved how much detail this book contained and how strong the author showed the murder and described it precisely. Overall, I enjoyed this.
Profile Image for Kathi.
57 reviews2 followers
May 13, 2021
so so schön geschrieben!
das buch war mitreißend und spannend und ich mochte es sehr.

trotzdem hatte es seine längen und das ende hat mir gar nicht gefallen.

"Wenn Körper in zwei Hälften geteilt wären, was würde uns dann wohl zusammenhalten?"

"Dinge, die wie Duft und Atem in der Luft liegen, verschwinden immer zuerst."

"Das helle Licht der Hoffnung auf eine Zukunft scheint direkt durch meine geschlossenen Lider, und ich würde zusammenzucken, wenn es nicht so schön wäre."

"Der Druck seines Gesichts auf meiner Haut, meinen Knochen und meinen Muskeln war die allerbeste Art von Druck - die Art, vor der man keine Angst hat, die Art, für die der Körper lebt."
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