Keri Lake

 ✮✮✮ 4.5 STARS  ✮✮✮

Papa says everyone has a story that deserves to be told. 

Most begin years ago, after the second bomb hit, unearthing a deadly contagion that divided the population into the pure, the infected, and the Ragers. 
Many recount the moment we rose up from the ashes and started anew.
Others tell of the day we built a wall to keep them out.
For some, they’re nothing more than the vestiges left behind—a simple name carved into the knotty bark of a Juniper tree.
My story begins with a boy. A mute, from the other side of the wall, known only as Six, who touched my heart in ways that words never could, and gave me the courage to face my darkest truth.

…there isn’t a vaccine in creation that can cure hatred and indifference to human suffering. They are the most virulent diseases in existence.
Keri Lake ventures with Juniper Unraveling into uncharted territory. I am convinced that she can write anything she sets her mind on but I was a little nervous on her behalf. She is one of the authors who takes feedback and criticism with grace and humility but I have an idea of how much this story means to her so for her I wanted to love it. So let’s see how she fared!

But there is no monster more terrifying than the human being who lacks compassion.

The world we enter in this story is reminiscent of one of the darkest of mankind – Nazi concentration camps, barbarous, inhuman treatment of innocent people, but also the glimmers of hope and kindness, it’s all reflected in Juniper Unraveling, set into a post-apocalyptic world. The author captures that heavy, devastating and hopeless feel accurately. But where there is shadow there is also light and that comes with the characters.
Wren is a brave young girl, curious and maybe a little too reckless for a time when one wrong move may kill you. But it’s that courage that keeps her alive. There is a darkness inside of her she doesn’t understand, something that itches under her skin. When Six comes into her life they take every chance they have to create pockets of happiness in this hostile environment.
A mute boy with the heart of a lion and a gentle sweetness and innocence you usually don’t get with Keri Lake’s characters and is a miracle after all that was done to him, won me over from his first appearance in this story. Six is everything that is good in a world that has gone to hell. His adoration and fervent reverence for Wren was spell-binding and gave me hope that everything would be alright.

His hands are heaven, and his eyes are home.

The story is separated in two parts and while the first part definitely was a 5-star read for me it lost me a little bit in the second part. The author follows her usual recipe for anti-heroes, good people doing bad things but it’s the first part of the story that still lingered in my mind when we met the hero again. I was waiting to see a glimpse of the main characters’ younger selves. While I get that the things people have done and have been done to them will change them irrevocably I still expect to see glimpses of their former selves in them to make them redeemable. I wanted to see a bit of the sweetness I loved so much in Six. I didn’t get that until the last chapter and the epilogue, which was perfection. That is not to say that I disliked the man, no, but I loved the boy so much that it was hard to reconcile them in my mind until the end. 

He is fire in a rainstorm. A sweet poison that intoxicates me. A force of nature that defies everything I know— both dangerous and extraordinary at the same time.

As mentioned the story can be separated in two parts and the twist is so cleverly executed that I didn’t see it coming. I had my theories but I wasn’t expecting that
When you are pulled into this dark world and your heart hurts from the atrocities it’s the unexpected beauty and gentleness that keeps you from falling into despair. And this is where Keri gives testament to her immense talent and shines. One of my favorite and most beautiful quotes in the book is in the epilogue.

When the world is at its darkest, somehow love still carries the light. Love is strength and weakness. A crutch and a sword. It can leave a person hollow and heal their wounds. It’s a friend to the stars, with pain as its shadow. A dichotomy whose time is uncertain. But above all things, love is necessary.

I really want to sneak into the author’s mind to see what’s going on there, how somebody so sweet and gracious can come up with the most disturbing stories. 
This book is not meant to be enjoyed. It has some grim, dark and twisted moments that will have your stomach churning and in a knot but you’ll read on, eyes glued to the pages. Juniper Unraveling is a reminder of the inhumanity and atrocity that happens when the wrong people come into power and have free reign to spread cruelty and horror in the world. It’s a mirror of the current state of affairs. However, it’s also a cenotaph of extraordinary courage, the one that makes people go above and beyond in times when heroes are needed.

Keri Lake took a chance with this story and I’m so glad she shared it with us. 

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