Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Straightjacket (ARC) by Meredith Towbin

B;urb (from Goodreads):
Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…

Straightjacket by Meredith Towbin

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Straightjacket(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Etopia Press.)
18-year-old Anna has been stuck in a mental rehabilitation hospital by her parents after trying to kill herself. She only wishes that she had succeeded and gotten away from them. Anna’s parents are truly nasty to her, and rather than be concerned that she tried to kill herself, they are more interested in getting an apology from her for inconveniencing them!

19-year-old Caleb is stuck in the same institute as Anna. He believes that he is an angel, and during stupors his minds visits heaven, and he talks with a guide called Samuel.
Samuel tells Caleb that his mission is to get Anna away from her parents, and that this is what he should be concentrating on whilst on earth.

The trouble is that the more time Caleb spends with Anna, the more he realises that he is actually falling in love with her.
Discharging themselves from the hospital, Anna and Caleb run away and start spending what they hope will be the rest of their lives together. But things are never that simple when you’re an angel.
Caleb can’t just ignore his mission no matter what his feelings are towards Anna.
Can Caleb and Anna really be together? What will tear them apart first? And is Caleb really an angel?

This book was an enjoyable read, but the ending is going to bug me for a long time.

Anyone who has read one of my reviews before knows about my pet hate of non-endings, and incomplete storylines. While I appreciate that in real life things don’t always tie up neatly, I hate to be left hanging, and when major storylines are left open for the reader to make up their own minds about what really happened, it just kills me.
I have to say this, although you may think this a bit of a spoiler, look away if you don’t want to know, but at the end of this book, we have no evidence as to whether Caleb is really an angel, or if this is just a delusion; and he really is mentally ill. All we have is his word for it, and although the story does end, this question is still not answered! I suppose there are small indicators to the answer, but nothing concrete.

Other than this niggle I enjoyed this book. I liked the romance between Anna and Caleb, and funnily enough I even liked the trying to guess whether Caleb was really an angel, or a delusional mental health patient.

Anna and Caleb were both solid characters, and they interacted well, both with each other and the other characters. I liked how they both had problems, and how they both tried to be in charge of their own destiny’s, and how their mental health problems were treated seriously.

Anna’s parents were truly foul human beings, and I hope that they get what is coming to them. I could not believe how awful these people were, and I felt so sorry for Anna and the way they had treated her growing up, and how they continued to bully and manipulate her even at age 18.

I think one of my favourite points of this book was quite early on though, during a group therapy session, when one of the other patients started talking about her unicorn, and how it couldn’t visit her in wet weather ‘cause it would melt. I have to say that this was laugh-out-loud funny, and I really liked that bit!

The romance angle of the story was really well done. I thought that Caleb and Anna were so sweet together, and I loved the way they spoke to each other, and how they supported each other, even when there was the possibility that the other was actually nuts. I liked how they both had insecurities, and fears, and managed to work through them together. I also have to applaud the author for allowing her characters to consummate their relationship, even though this is a young adult book. I am so sick of characters who want to wait until they’re married – get real. I will just reassure any parents out there that although Caleb and Anna do consummate their relationship, there are no sex scenes or anything more than kissing detailed in this book.

I liked the storyline, although I expected to hear a little more about what Caleb’s mission was – we were told that he had to get Anna away from her parents, but not much else. I sort-of expected to find out more about why Anna was special, or where her life was supposed to take her, or just something, but the second half of the book focused mainly on Anna and Caleb’s relationship.

That being said, I did enjoy this book, and I thought that it was well written, if these few niggles could have been ironed out, this would have been really good. I would definitely be interested in reading the author’s next book, and I seriously want there to be a sequel to this book so that I can find out more about Anna and Caleb!
Overall; if you like angel stories, or stories about mental illness, and don’t mind a bit of uncertainty at the end, then you’ll probably appreciate this book. I just hope there’s a sequel!
7 out of 10.

 'Straightjacket' will be released on February 15th 2013
Love that cover!


  1. I love the cover and it does sounds like will be something I would like. Great review. Gonna have to to keep an eye out for it.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  2. The storyline sounds good, but not sure about an uncertain ending. Maybe there will be a sequel soon for you.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. I like stories about angels, I will have to add this one to my TBR list so I can look into it. When you say that the ending was uncertain, was there a cliff hanger?

    1. Less of a cliffhanger, and more of an unanswered question - a pretty major one. I don't want to give too much away, but it's a bit like getting to the end of a book, and not knowing if it was all a dream, that sort of a major unanswered question!

    2. Ah that sounds mysterious! I will have to check it out! Thanks for answering me!

  4. Sounds like a fun book. Not sure about an open ending, or unending:)

    I just finished a two book series that kind of left the ending open. Not sure if the character was real or not. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So this might be worth a try.

  5. I actually love the sound of this one. But yes, non-endings can be the death of a book. Why must authors do that to us???

  6. I haven't heard of this before but I am going to add it to my TBR list! It sounds really interesting and there are not enough books out there that deal with mental issues. Can't wait to read this-even if there is no realy ending ending!

    Emily @ Falling For YA