on June 22nd
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Tristan Lopez is loyal to his brothers. He doesn’t really have a choice, born into a gang that has a chokehold on every kid that roams its streets. He gave his life to them willingly, knowing if he did then one day this kingdom, led by boys drunk with power and ruled by fear, would all be his.
He was loyal through it all. Loyal when prison took his dad away. Loyal when his face was touched by the cold metal of the rival gang’s gun. Loyal even though his mom begged him to run the moment she returned home from rehab.
He thought about becoming someone else. It was hard not to crave the life of a regular 17-year-old. It’s the only reason he stayed in school—to pretend. But he always fell back in line.
Riley Rojas didn’t belong in Tristan’s real world. She should have only been part of the fantasy, one of the many faces he got to pretend with amidst rows of metal chairs and desks and whiteboards with assignments. But there she was, moving boxes from the back of an old pick-up into a house Tristan had shot up on a dare with his friends only a few months before.
Tall enough to look him in the eyes and strong enough to fill his shadow, Riley took up space on his streets, her loud mouth fearless in the face of the gang leaders who terrified everyone else. She pushed Tristan around on the hard court, and she balled better than his friends—better than him sometimes. She challenged him. She needed him. He liked it. And when her pale blue eyes stared into his, he quit wanting to pretend.
He couldn’t ask her to leave because she’d only dig her heels in deeper. He couldn’t ask because he didn’t want her to go. She was blurring his lines. She was testing his loyalty.
He was falling in love.
And it was going to tear him apart.
by Ginger Scott
Full disclosure – my mindset when I started Cry Baby wasn’t in the right place so my review might be a little bit tainted by that. I have had a lot going on and it was a little hard to focus on a story that so needs to be told. At the beginning I thought that the story was slow until I realized that it was me not having enough time that made me grumpy. Adding to that the the fact that my mind was all over the place I gave myself a couple of days and it definitely worked because I finished half of the book in half a day.
Cry Baby addresses some heavy topics – once more Ginger Scott doesn’t shy away from them but approaches them with tact and heart. It’s one of the qualities I appreciate so much about her writing. Gangs are real and they are a real problem. More often than not their members are born into them and some who want to get out never really have a chance to escape, forced to do things they never really want to do. This is what happens to Tristan.
I loved Ginger’s edgiest hero so far. He desperately wants to leave the vicious circle the leader of the gang put him in but it is impossible for him to find a way out without getting himself killed in the process. When a girl moves to his neighborhood he does everything to keep her away from himself and everything that is connected to the band activity. He didn’t anticipate Riley’s stubbornness, her strong will to hold on to him.
I’m obsessed. I constantly think of ways I can get out, how I can survive it and still be close to her. I imagine the pain of the beating I’d have to take, and the more I think about it, the less painful it becomes in my mind. I think it’s more than just a girl— Riley has opened this window to what I could be
Riley has a hard time handling Tristan’s purposeful ignorance in the beginning. As a basketball player physicality is second nature so when she’s really upset or angry things can get a little rough. While this was a side I usually don’t condone it made sense for Riley. She expressed her frustration with Tristan in a physical way. What I loved most about her was how she stood by him, never letting him get away when he pushed. She was his rock and he learned fast that he could rely on her. Riley was independent, fearless, strong and lovable.
One thing that didn’t quite work for me was Riley’s leniency about locking up in a neighborhood with gang activity. It didn’t make sense for her or her dad to put themselves in danger open-eyed and ignore the risks they put themselves in. It felt a bit TSTL, you know?
Tristan’s protective streak was a huge source of exasperation and hurt feelings for Riley until she realized why he did it. I loved this about him. He took care of her despite her being his weakness. She made him see that he was worth more than he gave himself credit for. Torn between hope and hopelessness she made him dream about a future he thought he could never have and it took a long time for him to accept that she would do whatever it took to help him because she saw him for what he really was – a good young man with great potential trapped in a world he didn’t want to be in any longer. And because she was the one for him she gave him the courage to break free.
You get what you see, and my world is dark right now. When the dark came for Riley she fought for the light. She’s a reason to fight now. I want to be like her. I want to live like her— do good things, work hard. I want to be with her. I want to love her… to get to love her
In the bubble they create for themselves a sweet and epic love story blooms and while not everything is picture-perfect it’s real. It’s what I love so much about Ginger Scott’s story – they all have a sense of reality, something that could happen to a person you know. It’s also how the story ends – while the ending was actually really good I would have loved a fluffier ending. It felt a little too open when I wanted to see a proper HEA after all the heartbreak. Objectively it was realistic with the way Tristan and Riley were in and out of each others’ lives for a while, so I can’t really fault it.
I told her she didn’t belong in my world once, but she did. She just didn’t belong in the darkness. She belonged in the light. I just never knew that she’d take me there with her. I never thought I belonged. I’m beginning to believe I do, though.
Once more Ms. Scott hits all the right buttons and makes me feel and love her characters. She will always be a go-to author when I’m in need of something special with a good dose of angst. Whenever I close one of her books I start wondering what unusual story she will come up next. She is and stays one of my favorites.