Book Review: ‘Damaged : A Violated Trust’ by Melody Carlson

Synopsis: At 16, Haley moves to California to be with her dad and escape the clutches of her over-the-top religious mother. She soon revels in the freedom she has at her dad’s house – no curfew, no arguments over what she wears and who she hangs out with, and no rules – and when Harris Stephens, the hottest guy in the football team asks her out, she happily accepts. Haley ignores the warnings from others about Harris and is caught in a dangerous situation that leads to the unthinkable. As Haley deals with feelings of guilt, shame and betrayal, can she find the strength to tell her story before any other girls fall prey to Harris’ schemes?

My review: Wow, what a powerful book! Haley, a naïve 16 year old, moves to California to get away from the controlling rule of her mother. Her father’s home is the complete opposite, with no boundaries whatsoever. On the first day of her new school, Haley finds herself in the popular group, and meets football quarterback, Harris Stephens.
Right from the moment that Harris is introduced to the reader, it is clear that he is not what he seems, and despite warnings to that effect, Haley pursues a relationship with him, trusting her heart over her head.
As the story progressed, I could see exactly where Haley was headed – Haley’s romance is soon over, almost as quickly as it started, Harris has moved on, and Haley is left feeling violated and alone. The situation that Haley finds herself in is heartbreaking and very emotional. However, it is often when we are at our lowest point that we realise our need for God, which is exactly what happens with Haley.
It was lovely to see the transformation in Haley as she realised that God can restore brokenness and give strength to stand up for others and to forgive the unforgivable.
I would have loved to have read this book as a teenager. Boys like Harris do exist and hopefully this book will help teenage girls to be wary of situations that could lead to rape or sexual abuse.
While Melody does a good job in not making the descriptions too vivid, I’d suggest the themes in the book are probably not suitable for anyone under 13 years of age.

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