Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I know who you are… Who you really are.”
The St. Jude’s Home for Court Placed Juveniles is a nightmare run by an abusive pastor and his wife. Five teenagers try to band together for protection and safety. Carissa, the youngest and non-verbal. Rose, alone and pregnant. Simon, one mistake away from losing everything. Beth, a rich girl who is there for unknown reasons, and Tommy, the boy who loves her.
One deadly secret…
The only good part of living at St. Jude’s for Tommy is Beth and his love for her. When he and Beth are caught making out at school and a teacher tells the Pastor, it puts everyone in danger. Tommy is used to the beatings but when Beth is singled out for punishment, Tommy can’t sit back and let it happen.
A debt owed…
A single act seals their fate in the blood. When a mysterious man shows up, they are given one shot at freedom. The price? They owe a debt to him. And when he commands, they will come.
The Debt is a roller coaster ride as we are taken on a journey through a foster home run by a sadistic pastor and his equally cruel wife. Children are placed there for various reasons and struggle to stay healthy and alive until they are free. Fans of O’Keefe’s Bad Boy Romance series may notice some familiar names in here as this story is set in the same world. I can;t WAIT to see where O’Keefe runs with this. I do want to add a warning that this may trigger some as there is abuse, violence, and sexual assault.
As always, O’Keefe doesn’t hold back as she gives readers a front row seat to the dark and gritty edges life has to offer. O’Keefe offers no promises as she slowly peels back the layers to show us the truth and the price some pay for it. Though this novella is only fifty-two pages long, it reads like a full-length novel with a strong emotional storyline, intriguing characters, and a suspense-filled conflict. I was wiped by the end; completely wore out from the emotional avalanche I experienced while reading.
Heavily character driven, the story is told from alternating points of view. The dispassionate voices of these teenagers hits home far harder than if they were colored in fear and/or anger. O’Keefe does an excellent job setting the scene for the next book-Lost Without You-one of two full-length novels that make up the series. We are only given the bare bones of why these kids are in foster care but the overall feeling is they are victims of fate or bad parenting. We see the extreme length they are forced to go to and the price they have to pay.
This quick dark read is hard in the heart but necessary to understand the journey these kids will take in the future. I wholeheartedly recommend M O’Keefe’s The Debt and am looking forward to book two which releases June 19th. The Debt is currently being offered for free for a limited time. If you miss this deal, I am told this title will be included with book two.