Title – Chasing Abby
Author – Cassia Leo
Publication Date – September 29, 2014
Series – Shattered Hearts, #6
The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times and USA Today best selling series.
Five years, six months, eight days….
It’s been eighteen years since Abigail was born with a hole in her heart. Five years since she collapsed on the soccer field. Five years, six months, eight days since she found out she was adopted.
Abby has spent five years wondering about the family she never knew and waiting for her eighteenth birthday. When Abby shows up on the doorstep of Chris and Claire Knight, her birth parents are overjoyed to see the little girl they lost eighteen years ago.
One summer is all they have to make up for the years they lost. But a summer of love soon turns into a summer of heartache.
Chasing Abby is one of those books that leaves you gutted and completely raw from all the emotions experienced while reading it. The story truly embodied love and warmth, yet heartbreak and strength. It was an incredible way to end the series and really brought all the storylines full circle. I don’t know that I will ever be fully ready to say goodbye to Chris, Claire, and Abby, but if I have to, Chasing Abby was the best possible outcome that I could have hoped for.
“Because blackbirds can’t touch the sky if you never set them free.”
This book is the fourth in the Shattered Hearts series and though we receive several different points of view, this is truly Abby’s story. With her eighteenth birthday fast approaching, she has a decision to make about whether or not she will open the safety deposit box that holds the key to who her biological parents are. After an argument with her adoptive parents, she decides that she wants to know and goes with her boyfriend, Caleb, to find out. On the brink of giving up hope that they will ever meet Abby, Chris and Claire are stunned when Abby shows up on their doorstep. What follows is a beautiful journey and an unforgettable experience where readers get to witness an incredible transformation and growth because of one decision that Abby made.
“This is hopeless. I feel like Chris’s famous roast chicken, like I’m being carved into pieces: one piece for my mom and dad, one for the Knights, one for Caleb and my friends How about me? Which piece of me to I get to keep?”
One of the things that I absolutely loved about this book was that the family situations were awkward and pragmatic, and Cassia paints that picture so well. You can feel the tension in the room, or the longing to have that connection with Abby but not knowing how to get there. However, when it was one on one time, both Chris and Claire were easily able to connect with their daughter through their own channels – i.e. Chris with music and Claire with the beach. The emotions portrayed felt realistic and we didn’t have to watch them through rose-colored glasses, which I definitely appreciated. The story did not feel forced and just seemed to flow effortlessly from one moment to the next. Watching Abby mature and become stronger was something very special for me. She grew more assertive with her dreams and really found her voice, but not until she discovered her roots. She made the hard decisions in haste and it was probably one of my favorite qualities about her. Her progression from the beginning of this book to the very last page was captivating and she is absolutely not a character that I am likely to forget any time soon. Chris and Claire are the same characters we have come to love, yet so much more at the same time. Seeing them interact with Abby, as well as their other children, just gave such a familial dynamic to the book. It was the perfect touch.
“I’m different. I’m the girl who got away. The girl who was strong enough to capture my parents’ hearts in a single twenty-minute meeting and hold them captive for eighteen years.”
I saw Cassia Leo say that the Shattered Hearts story has always been Abby’s story, and I didn’t quite agree with her until reading Chasing Abby. This one book truly makes you realize that everything Claire and Chris had gone through had been all about Abby. From day one of them meeting, it all led to the moments in this final piece of the puzzle. I’m not going to lie and say this book is all roses, there were some definite ugly crying crocodile tears going on and several times, I needed to put it down to compose myself. However, being able to experience so many emotions is definitely the sign of a great writer, and Cassia Leo is just that. She has a beautiful way with words and is such a strong storyteller. This book was heartbreaking, breathtaking, and absolutely beautiful. I loved the series overall, but Chasing Abby rose the bar for me and is, without a doubt, my favorite of all the pieces.
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Check out the Rest of the Shattered Hearts Series!
Forever Ours (Shattered Hearts #1)
Relentless (Shattered Hearts #2)
Pieces of You (Shattered Hearts #3)
Bring Me Home (Shattered Hearts #4)
Abandon (Shattered Hearts #5)
Ripped (Shattered Hearts #7)
AMY RIDES HOME with Caleb and me after school. An April storm swooped in while we were in third period. The smell of the rain and the sound of the drops tapping on the vinyl convertible top is soothing after a long day of fake smiles. Amy and Caleb are the only people who know about the significance of today’s date. Everyone at school was wishing me a happy eighteenth birthday, completely oblivious as to how unhappy today actually is.
I haven’t told Caleb or Amy, but I’ve already made my decision about opening the safe-deposit box.
Caleb pulls into the driveway, next to my dad’s silver pickup truck, and turns off the engine. The silence that follows brings a smile to my face. They’re both waiting for direction from me.
“Let’s go. I’m sure my mom is pacing the living room, waiting for me to walk through the front door.”
Caleb laughs, but Amy shakes her head. Her wavy brown hair is damp at the ends from the rain and the light freckles on her nose are showing through her makeup, but she still looks great. My makeup is probably all gone.
“Is your mom going to freak out?”
I push the passenger door open and a few raindrops fall on my arm. “Amy, this is my mom. Of course she’s going to freak out… on the inside. On the outside, she’ll pretend like everything is okay.”
Caleb grabs my shoulder as we stroll up the front walk, then he gives it a soft squeeze. “Whatever you choose is the right choice. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.”
I smile and, for some reason, the $4,000 guitar lying in his trunk comes to mind. Of course Caleb thinks that whatever I choose is the right choice. He thinks I’m so special I actually deserve a $4,000 guitar. I could probably run away tonight and Caleb would tell me I made the right choice. Of course, if I ran away tonight I’d probably end up spending the night with Caleb at the apartment he shares with his twenty-three-year-old roommate. So that’s a bit obvious.
“Is your dad supposed to be home right now?” Amy asks as I reach for the doorknob.
“No, he probably left work early. It’s a big day for them, too.” Pushing open the front door, I’m a bit surprised to find my dad standing in the foyer, as if he were waiting for me. “Hey, Dad.”
He clears his throat and smiles. “I know I wished you a happy birthday this morning, but I’m going to do it again.” He extends his right hand forward and I see the gold key lying flat in his palm. “Happy birthday, sweetheart. This is yours now.”
I draw in a few deep breaths, then I reach forward and take the key from his hand. I curl my fist around the sharp metal, squeezing as it digs into the soft flesh of my palm. Looking up into my father’s blue eyes, the barely disguised grimace crinkling the skin around the corners, I tuck the key into the front pocket of my jeans.
“I’m not going today,” I say, smiling so he doesn’t think this was a difficult decision to make. “I don’t know if I ever will, but thank you for trusting me to make the decision on my own. I love you, Dad.”
I wrap my arms around his thick waist and he squeezes my shoulders so tight it hurts. “I’ve always trusted you, sweetheart. I know you’ll make the right decision for you.”
“What’s going on?”
My mom’s voice is soft and laced with worry, but it still grates on my nerves. I love my mom, but her inability to trust that I would make the right decision has broken something between us. I don’t know if I’ll ever hear her speak and hear the same voice that sang me to sleep every night until I was eight years old.
“I’m not going,” I say, letting go of my dad.
Her eyebrows knit together, but there’s a spark of hope in her eyes and a slight curl to her lips. “Why not?”
I blink a few times to hold back the tears. “Because I’m afraid of hurting you.”
“What? That’s silly.”
“No, it’s not. I can see how much you want me to leave that part of me in the past. Even if you don’t say it, I can see it in your eyes.”
“I’m sorry, Abby. I just—”
“No, you don’t have to explain, Mom. I understand.” I sniff loudly as I wipe the tears from my face. “You don’t want to lose me. And I’m lucky to have you. I know that… I don’t want to lose you either.”
She shakes her head and takes my face in her hands. “Oh, honey. You’re not going to lose me. You’ll never lose me.” She kisses my forehead and tucks my hair behind my ear. “Yes, I’m afraid of what this will do to our family going forward, but it’s natural. We fought so hard for you, Abby. I just want to protect you. I want to protect this family.”
She presses her lips together as she considers this question. “I don’t know. But please don’t let my fear influence you. This is your decision, honey. Your father and I will support you no matter what you choose to do.”
I nod and she takes me into her arms. I allow myself to cry on her shoulder for a moment, before I excuse myself to my bedroom with Caleb and Amy. Closing the door behind us, I immediately take a seat on my bed while Amy sits at my desk and Caleb sits next to me.
“She’s hiding something from me,” I say as Caleb grabs my hand.
“Our parents probably hide more things from us than we do from them,” Amy replies, opening up my laptop. “Do you want me to respond to all your birthday greetings on Facebook?”
“Not the ones from guys,” Caleb adds, and I shove him. “Are you sure you don’t want to see what’s inside that box?”
I nod quickly. “I’m not ready. I’m actually glad my mom made me wait. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to face the people who gave me away.”
“What if they had no choice?” Amy says.
“No choice? In what kind of world would they have no choice? Of course they had a choice. Maybe it was a difficult one, but it was still the choice they made. Why do I even want to meet someone who didn’t want me? My parents want me. They’ve always wanted me and now I’m going to risk hurting them just to satisfy my curiosity? It doesn’t make sense.”
“You’ll know when you’re ready,” Amy says, an automatic response as she scrolls through my Facebook profile and responds to hundreds of birthday wishes.
I look up at Caleb and he’s staring straight at me. “What?”
“That’s bullshit,” he repeats. “You’re not going to hurt your parents. And you know that.”
I try to let go of his hand, but he tightens his grip. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I know better than you do. I had a mother who didn’t want me. Really didn’t want me. But you… you don’t know what your birth parents felt about you and I think that’s what scares you the most. Not knowing.”
The soft tapping of Amy’s fingers on the keyboard of my laptop stops. I bite my lip as I try to deny that what Caleb just said is true, but I can’t. He’s right. I’m not afraid of hurting my parents. I’m afraid of hurting me.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cassia Leo grew up in California and has lived in three different countries. She loves to travel and her dream is to one day score a record deal based on her awesome shower singing skills. She is the author of the Shattered Hearts series (Forever Ours, Relentless, Pieces of You, Bring Me Home) and the Luke, Knox, and Chase series.