I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Diving In is book 2 of the Open Door Love Story and can be read as a standalone. However, I strongly suggest you read the first book in the series as it will shatter everything you thought about love. I wasn’t sure if Brynn’s story could top the first one. But the way my heart reacted to this story, I think it did. I did more than read and experience this story. I lived it. Yes. LIVE.
“This is what it means to desire someone.”
Most high schoolers go on to college after graduation. Others that do not, make plans. And then you have Brynn Garrett who isn’t sure of anything in her life at the moment. She feels a pull towards staying home and learning the family’s dry cleaners business. But what about college? She is in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend that she is simply complacent with. Her family of four is torn apart as her mother is completely broken over her brother’s decision to live a life that makes him happy. One thing she is sure of? Gabe Riley. She wants him. But there is a problem. She may be hiding something big. And Gabe has no idea.
Giving away the plot of the story would be a complete disservice of this story. Diving In is meant to be experienced by the reader. Gabe is once at the top of his game in high school. And one tragic day changes everything. Years later, he runs into Brynn. She is immediately intrigued with Gabe’s outlook on life. His circumstances are anything but ideal, but he is living. He is funny and he is still as gorgeous as he was years ago. That feeling she has? That’s what it means to yearn for someone. She’s never felt that. Until Gabe. Despite that he is now different. She wants him.
“He’s getting something he loves back, something he’d almost made peace with losing without knowing what he was denying himself.”
I loved the banter and wit of this story. It was genius. It held my attention the entire time. The characters are genuine. Their emotions, raw. You feel everything in this story. You feel the inner turmoil of all the characters. Diving In shows that we are all imperfect and that is simply OK. We are all flawed, but that is what makes us who we are. Brynn loves that Gabe is broken. She loves that he is not perfect and never once wished him to be. She never saw him as broken pieces. She only saw the pieces that would make her whole again.
“You see all of me, Brynn. I know you do and you don’t care that I am broken.”
What I love most about this series and this author is that she takes chances. She goes where many books try and fall short. This story and the first one shatters the things you think you know about love. The love in Diving In is DEEP. It is unlike anything you will probably EVER read. The kind of love that sees no obstacles. Brynn and Gabe only see each other. The heart doesn’t know boundaries. It overcomes them. It is not until you love that you truly live. This author holds nothing back. She shows us that even the most broken people are worthy and capable of love and being loved. She gives people who are seen as "different" a voice.
Diving In is definitely one of my favorite stories this year. This beautiful, heartfelt, emotional story absolutely moved me. It gave me chills. It made me fall in love with reading again. THIS. BOOK. It’s everything that I wanted to experience as a reader and more. As I said before it will shatter any idea you had about love. I laughed. I cried. I lived.
Stacey Wallace Benefiel is the author of the Zellie Wells trilogy, FOUND, the Day of Sacrifice series, The Toilet Business - a collection of essays,CROSSING, and multiple short stories.
She sometimes goes by S.W. Benefiel or Reina Stowe, but knows she's not foolin' anybody.
Stacey lives in an orange house in Beaverton, OR with her two young children.
For more information on Stacey and her books, please visit her website: http://staceywallacebenefiel.com