on January 10, 2015
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An epic love. An epic hate. An epic story that would last a lifetime.
Today, 8:15 p.m.
I hurt. I hurt so deeply, I felt the pain searing in my bones and jabbing like a hot poker into my heart. I knew nothing would make it better as the memories pulled from the crevices of my mind, detailing the bad and the ugly, filling my thoughts with regret as I slipped into the darkness. . .
When I was eight, my mother was dying of cancer, my father lost his job, and the bank kicked us out of our house. I was forced to move to the strange town of Arlis, Texas where my father and I slept in our car in the hospital parking lot. Desperate and hopeless, we lived on fumes of our former life.
Then one night, everything changed forever. A knock on the car window brought a family into my life that I only wanted to shut out. I hated charity and I hated the Masons. Well, except one. He made it impossible to hate him.
Jess Mason had the biggest blue eyes and ornery smile of any boy I had ever seen. He was a ray of sunshine in my dark world. A boy full of adventure, dragging me across the meadow of Sprayberry Ranch; a beautiful Texas paradise full of horses and tree houses that got us into more trouble than anyone ever imagined.
Jess was my everything as a kid until we grew up and the rules changed. Instead of living happily ever after with a boy full of love. . . I destroyed it.
- Alex Tanner
Author Note: The Mason List is a coming-of-age story that follows the life of Alex Tanner from the age of six to twenty-six. The novel crosses the genres of Young Adult and New Adult. The Mason List is a standalone, 118,940 word, full-length novel.
Wow! If there is anything that cured me from my book slump, it was definitely this book! What a debut from author S.D. Hendrickson which has officially gone on my list of my Top Faves so far of 2015. In a word…simply magical! S.D. Hendrickson has become a must click author for me and I can’t wait to read what she has in store for us next.
I love coming of age stories and The Mason List pulled me right in. The reader is taken on an amazing journey following the lives of Alex and Jess from the age of 6 to 26 years old while they grow and live and learn about life and relationships and love.
So where does it all begin?
Well Alex’s mother has cancer when she is a young girl, which quickly turns into a life altering moment – not only in the sense of the impending loss of her mother but just life in general as she knows it because her father loses his job as he is spending more and more time at his wife’s bedside; they lose their home and have literally hit rock bottom. Alex grows up too fast for her age and is not able to live the life of a little girl as she tries to put up a front for her father that she is OK though we, the reader know what her true thoughts are about everything going on in her life.
While her mother is being taken care of in the hospital, she meets Jess Mason. Jess’s dad is the Doctor on her mother’s case. As Alex and her father are now homeless living in his truck, eating moldy food from vending machines, the Mason’s take it upon themselves to help them, to pay it forward; not asking anything in return other than to help offer Alex and her father a new life.
I loved watching these characters grow into their own as they got older; watching their interactions and relationship change starting from their initial friendship pact, through jealous girlfriends to first kisses.
I knew in my heart and soul that Jess had feelings for Alex but he just knew her so well, knew not to rush and to let life run its course; to allow for lessons to be learned and for fate to finally intervene.
It’s no secret that Alex is scarred emotionally from losing her mother. But not only that, she holds tightly onto “The Mason List” – the list of everything that The Mason family has given to her and her father to give them a better life; a list that eats away at her because of everything she feels that she “owes” to this family. And eventually it becomes more than just a list, it becomes something that she despises and resents making her incapable of seeing that she doesn’t owe anyone anything other than to grab the happiness and love that has always been in front of her.
So things I LOVED about this book:
- Jess – could a real man be so sweet? Jess is the epitome of a book boyfriend – always caring, always protective and supportive and always there for the woman he met as a child and eventually came to love with his whole heart and being
- the emotions and the feels while reading this book – I have come to learn about myself that I love THESE types of books the most – the ones that pull at your heart strings, the ones that provide you with lessons to learn from, the ones that give you those heartwarming moments that you want to treasure – The Mason List did this for me and more – make sure to have tissues!
- I LOVED the dual POV – the past and present and how everything came together. Right from the get go, you know and feel that Alex has gone through something devastating and my heart was literally in my throat throughout trying to figure it out. When it all comes together – just WOW! Ms. Hendrickson pulled this off seamlessly.
- really just EVERYTHING – when you finally find out if childhood friends could become more, and if love can truly be found at such a young age, we are thrown a curveball that you will not expect. But have faith and trust that when all is said and done and you read that epilogue with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart, that you have just experienced an epic love story that you will never ever forget.
Thank you Ms. Hendrickson for touching a piece of my soul. For giving me such amazing characters in Alex and Jess that I fell completely in love with them and their story that they will live inside my heart for a long time to come.
Beautifully written and simply magical – pick up The Mason List – this is one you will fall in love with too!
So I asked the author for her fave excerpt from the book and she gave me two to pick from…and well, I just couldn’t pick! So here are two excerpts – enjoy!! Sighhhhhhh <3 <3
That night scared me. It scared me in ways I didn’t want to think about as I watched my friend stare up at the ceiling in the hospital. I knew he was still in pain.
“I’m really sorry,” he whispered softly.
“No, it’s not. I do stupid stuff sometimes. I get caught up in the moment and I…I know we joke ’round, but you’re my best friend.” The blue eyes glistened in the dim room as he rolled over to face me. “You wouldn’t wake up after you got hit. I kept shakin’ you, and you just laid there. The boards were fallin’ everywhere…and I was scared. I don’t know what I’d do if somethin’ happened to you.”
An odd pain stabbed me in the chest. I sucked in a deep breath. Every time I closed my eyes, I pictured his body covered in fire. I pictured the orange flames eating up his skin. I pictured a life without Jess. The image hurt. It hurt deep inside my chest in a way nothing else could reach me.
“I would cry,” I whispered.
“What?” His voice cracked like it often did these days.
“I would cry for you, Jess.”
Jess pulled my chin around so he could watch my face. His finger pulled my lip out from my tightly clenched teeth. His eyebrows stayed knitted up in a look of concern. I could tell his mind was trying to pry into my confused thoughts.
“Alex, I’m not sorry for finally kissin’ you. I know it scares you and sets off one of those internal arguments. I see it goin’ on right now inside of your head. You need some time to think ’bout it. I understand. I’m scared too, but I know I’m right ’bout us.” He smiled. “I won’t kiss you again until it’s your idea. I promise. I want this to be one hundred percent from you. We’ve got somethin’ that people look for their whole lives. We just found it when we were eight. Because of that, I can wait a little bit longer.”
“I don’t want you waiting on me,” I whispered.
“You don’t really got a choice in that.”