I cannot count how often I have heard someone say they don’t feel beautiful, or don’t feel loved, because a significant other beats them with insults, ignores their sadness, or makes them feel less than loved. This is where the story ripped my heart open and left it raw. “Life’s too short, and love’s too good to pass up for some sham deal. You’re too goddamn smart, and too goddamn good for a life like that”. Be beautiful, be happy, be yourself. Because if you can’t love yourself, it is awfully difficult to let someone else love you too. ~ Alyn, Guilty Pleasures
My name is Elise Duchamp. I’m twenty-three years old and I’m known as the town whore.
No, not the kind who exchanges sexual favors for money. The other kind. The kind who gives it all away for free, whenever and however she likes. I am that girl. The one everyone whispers about and the one none of the girls seem to like, because all of their boyfriends either want to sleep with me or already have. Promiscuity is my thing—the kind that slowly, violently turns my insides black, but gives me something I need.
All things considered, I’m not completely reckless. I’m safe, and contrary to popular opinion, I do have a heart. I live in a world of careless choices, and with those choices come careless people. I cannot judge them, because I am one of them. I too bow down to the altar of the self-serving. I am not a good friend. I am not and never could be anyone’s girlfriend. I’m convinced any goodness in me shriveled up and died long ago.
But I am a replacement. That is something I know how to be, and this is a story of the lengths I’d go to in order to keep it that way.
Review copy provided for an honest review
Every so often I come across a book that hits home in more ways than one. The type of book that reminds you to stop and think once and a while, or the type that reminds you so much of yourself even though you are not really like the character. Contradictory? Yes. However it is the only way I can explain how much this story touched my heart and left it raw. The Replacement is about a young woman named Elise Duchamp. She resides in Washington State (a place I dream to one day be) and spends her days working at a local diner while saving money to attend a French school and one day realize her dream of visiting France. While it may seem simple, Elise has a much darker story to tell. She grew up in a family that lived to put on a show for high society. Having a mother that relished in her beauty, and a father that reminded her every day of how it was diminishing, Elise learned a hard lesson about self-value. While abuse comes in many forms, the familiar phrase “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” reminds me of some of the worst abuse I have encountered and so has Elise. That childish phrase seems so false to me, and this raw and emotional story only proves my point more. While our author does not ever mention Elise’s father physically abusing her mother or Elise, she does relay the fact that the emotional abuse had such an impact on Elise after watching her mother waste away to a sliver of who she once was. Seeing this, and dealing with her father’s verbal assaults and bone chilling looks led Elise on a very different path.
Elise saw no value in herself and made a point to head down a self-destructive path whenever happiness hinted it was headed her way. She became the “other woman” and made a reputation as such, only sleeping with married men, or men that were committed so that she could be reminded that they weren’t to be trusted. It isn’t until she meets a handyman named Ryder that her life takes a turn down a different path and forces Elise to look at who she really is.
I was on an emotional roller coaster with this story but it is well worth the ride. At first I hated Elise because she was sleeping with her boss’s married brother, a total slime ball that she admitted to not liking. I could not understand why on earth she would sleep with someone she detested. She then turned right around and moved on to another man who was also married. As I read I felt as if I was watching a train wreck in slow motion as Elise destroyed one relationship after another with her seductive encounters and I couldn’t understand , but I couldn’t stop reading. As I read, I learned more and more how she watched her mother’s emotional abuse destroy her.
When Elise meets Ryder, she is instantly attracted to him. The sexy, tattooed, boy next door was enthralled by Elise despite her reputation. A man in love with beautifully broken things, Ryder could see that Elise was broken too. Throughout the story, he works to show Elise that she is something, and she is valuable to him. Elise makes every effort to push him away. It isn’t until Elise’s actions place her face to face with the barrel of a gun, that she is forced to deal with the choices she has made in her life. Tough love and a tender heart prove to be what she needs to find out the she is more than a Replacement for the women men cheat on, more than disposable, “she is exceptional, she is something, she is loved”.
This is where this book hits home. It isn’t necessarily about dealing with another woman or a cheating husband. It is about not settling for less than what we deserve in life. Elise settled for much of her life because of the emotional abuse she dealt with. Too often we stay in relationships that damage us because we are too weak to speak up or face the facts that the relationship isn’t healthy. I cannot count how often I have heard someone say they don’t feel beautiful, or don’t feel loved, because a significant other beats them with insults, ignores their sadness, or makes them feel less than loved. This is where the story ripped my heart open and left it raw. Like many, I struggle at times to see the beauty in my reflection and question my self worth. I hear echoes of the words of others that created those insecurities throughout the years and like Elise, had to fight to find the strength to see the truth. “Life’s too short, and love’s too good to pass up for some sham deal. You’re too goddamn smart, and too goddamn good for a life like that”. Be beautiful, be happy, be yourself. Because if you can’t love yourself, it is awfully difficult to let someone else love you too.