Title: 15 Years to Life
Author: Regina Bartley
Release Date: August 31, 2015
Life outside prison walls is the farthest thing from predictable. There is no order, no schedule, and no one to tell you what to do every second of your life. Since the age of eleven, Brian McCrary had been in prison. Why you ask? For protecting his twin sister Blaine, and taking the life of his father.
Murder… Fifteen years to Life… Childhood to manhood…
With his parole granted, it’s time for Brian to come face to face with real life. What he doesn’t know is that this new life would prove to be the most difficult thing that he had ever faced. There would be struggles beyond his control. He has to learn how to be a man, and learn everything that goes along with it.
Sex… Love… Life… Responsibilities…
Will it be too much for him to handle, or is he strong enough to survive life on the outside?
15 Years to Life is not a love story in the typical way. While there is an aspect of romantic love, the scope of this story is much wider. Our main character, Brian, emerges from a childhood spent in prison only to face the various relationships of the adult world. Forced to reexamine everything he knows, Brian struggles to understand the changes to his relationship with his twin sister, his feelings toward women, and his ever-present self-doubt. Watching Brian act like a love-struck teenager around Madeline made me laugh, his inexperience and awkwardness with women giving him an adorable and sweet side. This side of him clashed with his massive build, intimidating demeanor, and felonious reputation, ensuring all sorts of feels with this one. Regina Bartley fills the pages of 15 Years to Life with humor and heart, delivering a unique and delightful story of love and redemption.
“For almost twelve years I’d been waiting for this day to come, and now that it was here I felt overwhelmed. Every time I took a breath it felt heavy enough to choke me.”
My favorite part about this book was the relationship between Brian and Blaine. Being twins, I can’t imagine how exceptionally difficult it must have been growing up apart. Since twins generally share an unmatched intuitiveness, I knew they would feel each other’s struggles and deny their own issues in an attempt to protect one another. Regina Bartley did a great job at creating this dynamic between her characters, allowing all of their feelings and pain to slowly simmer beneath the surface of their relationship. We get to see a lot of great character growth when our siblings are forced to face the fact that their fears and vulnerabilities are far more similar than they imagined and this intense need for unconditional love is what made 15 Years to Life so relatable and easy to lose myself in.
“I wanted to keep what little piece of dignity I have left, but thanks to Blaine, I’m going to just toss that dignity right in the trash. I’ll probably set fire to it too. Might as well do it right.”
I enjoyed how much of this story was a learning process for Brian. It never occurred to me how hard it must be to spend so much of your youth incarcerated only to be thrust into a world of technology, relationships, and age milestones you’ve completely missed. Brian’s struggles felt genuine all the way through. His self-doubt and anxiety just made him that much more tangible and easy to connect with. Pacing problems, plot inconsistencies, and grammar/missing word issues were the main things that kept me from just absolutely loving this book. Although nothing was so significant as to keep me from enjoying this quick, sweet read. Regina Bartley kept me guessing as new characters entered the picture and Brian’s role in his own life was forced to shift once again. Regina made it impossible not to want to root for Brian and hope that he’d eventually find his happily ever after. If you’re looking for a quick book that will capture your interest and make you smile, 15 Years to Life is certainly worth the read.
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