Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: The Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn

The Way We Bared Our SoulsThe Way We Bared Our Souls by Willa Strayhorn
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: January 22, 2015
Purchase: Amazon
If you could trade your biggest burden for someone else’s, would you do it?

Five teenagers sit around a bonfire in the middle of the New Mexico desert. They don’t know it yet, but they are about to make the biggest sacrifice of their lives.

Lo has a family history of MS, and is starting to come down with all the symptoms.
Thomas, a former child soldier from Liberia, is plagued by traumatic memories of his war-torn past.
Kaya would do anything to feel physical pain, but a rare condition called CIP keeps her numb.
Ellen can’t remember who she was before she started doing drugs.
Kit lost his girlfriend in a car accident and now he just can’t shake his newfound fear of death.

When they trade totems as a symbol of shedding and adopting one another’s sorrows, they think it’s only an exercise.

But in the morning, they wake to find their burdens gone…and replaced with someone else’s.

As the reality of the ritual unfolds, this unlikely group of five embarks on a week of beautiful, terrifying experiences that all culminate in one perfect truth: In the end, your soul is stronger than your burdens.
My Thoughts:
This book puts a whole new meaning to the phrase walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

Lo has started having symptoms of MS and knows that her life is about to change drastically.  She feels at the end of her rope and isn't ready to tell anybody about her condition, but that changes when she meets Jay on the side of the road.  Jay says he can help her if she can find four friends to accompany on this adventure.  Lo knows this might by here only option so she recruits four people that she thinks could use some kind of help as well.  What happens is not what she signed up for and is a huge eye opener for everybody involved.

Basically this book is about what happens when we take on somebody else's burdens and give up our own.  Lo gives her MS symptoms to somebody else and takes on a condition where she can't feel pain.  This at the beginning seemed like an awesome trade for her, but as the week goes on she realizes that not feeling pain isn't an improvement at all.  I think the message behind this book is that no matter what you believe you are never given more than you can handle in your own life.  Yes things might be terrible and sometimes you hit rock bottom, but as a person you have inner strength to find the support you need to make a better life for yourself as much as you can. 

I really loved the message from this book and it is the first one in a long time to make me think about my own life and how I see my burdens.  It's not easy looking at things from a distance, but this book made me do that.  The author doesn't come across as preachy which I was concerned about after awhile.  Strayhorn kept the story about the characters and not her own personal beliefs and really let the characters show through the message. 

I also really liked the Indian background that was used.  It wasn't a pretty background, but it made me want to find out more about the tribes described.  I found it really fascinating and I have already been looking up books that will help me better understand what the author was trying to say.

The only thing that didn't quite work for me was the fall out from everybodies parents.  These five characters changed immensely throughout the week and I would have liked to have seen how their parents handle the abrupt change.  Especially Kaya.  Her transformation was the one that I think stood out the most and if her mom was as overbearing as described I found it heard to believe that certain events would have transpired.  I usually have issue with parents in YA books so this isn't new for me, but I always have to mention them in my reviews. One day I will find that book where the parents live up to my expectations.

All in all this book really spoke to me.  I really liked the characters and it was nice to see a YA book where the girls weren't completely catty with one another in a high school setting.  It was nice to see that Lo was just your average girl and trying to survive high school.  Nothing really dramatic happened which was a nice change.  Yes there is one girl that is the mean girl, but this isn't shoved in your face like they typically are.   

I am definitely going to keep my eye out for more from this author.  I really enjoyed her writing style and I am a huge fan after finishing The Way We Bared Our Souls.

4 snowflakes


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I already have it preordered and I'm really excited to read it when it releases! The plot sounds really interesting so I'm excited to see how it plays out :-)

  2. I am not sure about this book but the concept has me intrigued