The Not-Outcast by Tijan *REVIEW*

Rating: 5⭐️

Synopsis:Cutler Ryder was everything I wasn’t.
He was the hockey star. I was an outcast.
He was best friends with my stepbrother, that same stepbrother who hated me.
His two parents loved him. My mom was a junkie. My dad barely knew me.
Years passed.
I got my life together.
Cut went onto NHL stardom.
Then there was a text.
I was drinking.
There was a party.
Cut was there…
I loved Cutler Ryder since the first moment I saw him.
The only problem? He never knew I existed.

Review:Sit back and let me tell you a story about how a book that I almost DNF’d at the 20% mark came to be my favorite read of 2020.
I had seen The Not-Outcast floating around the romance community in December and when I saw it was a hockey romance with mental health rep, I knew that I had to pick it up immediately. I won’t lie, throughout the first part of this book I absolutely could not stand being in the main character, Cheyenne’s mind. She was quirky and scattered. I actually set this book down for a few days, but something about it just kept sticking in the back of my mind. I thought a lot about Cheyenne over the next few days and realized that it was not her characterization that was bothering me, it was the fact that being inside of her head was too much like being in my own head. It was uncomfortable and at times triggering, but I saw myself in this girl, so I knew that I had to keep going, and DAMN am I glad that I did.
Yes, this book is a hockey romance. We have Cut who is an absolute cinnamon roll of a character, which is my absolute favorite when it comes to sports romance. We have this tough hockey star who is full of rage and determination on the ice, but when he is off of the ice he is the kindest and sweetest hero. However, this book is so much more than that. This is truly Cheyenne’s story of overcoming not only huge traumas, but also living her life with these debilitating mental illnesses. I really enjoyed how the author made the choice to not write out her diagnoses on page, because I think that it was important to not get hung up on putting those labels on Cheyenne.
I do not think that this book will be for everyone. The reasons I love this book are so incredibly personal to me. For the very first time in my life I felt like I saw myself represented in such a realistic way in Cheyenne. I saw a girl who was really struggling, and at times spiraling, who still got the guy in the end. A girl who lived through such horrible things, and yet she had a huge heart, pushed to keep a smile on her face, and went out and created her own family. Although I read this book on Kindle Unlimited I have already purchased the paperback to keep on my shelf. This is a book I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life.

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