Book Review: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore Stultz

Thicker Than Water tells the story of Cecelia Price, a seventeen-year-old girl about to go on trial for killing her brother. It’s the tale of how a smart girl came to make some very bad decisions, the dominoes that led her there, and the truth behind a tragic situation.

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Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes.

Most of the time, I think people hear stories about drugs, drug dealing, and addiction and make snap judgments. “Oh, we all know that drugs are bad,” “That’s a stupid thing to do,” so on and so forth. By telling CeCe and Cyrus’s backstory and the hardships that both of them have gone through, Fiore makes the situation more approachable from an outsider’s perspective. Addiction is a very difficult situation to deal with, for both the victim and those who care about that person. Thicker Than Water shows this side of the story very well: CeCe’s struggle with watching her brother give in to drugs, Cyrus’s addiction and dealing, and their father’s naïve attitude towards the whole situation. I’m not saying it makes CeCe’s decisions right in any way, shape, or form, but it makes her human and I understand why she felt there was only one way out of the situation.

This book is incredibly emotional and at times, hard to read. The writing is descriptive and realistic and CeCe’s story is heartbreaking. Fiore weaves together all of the bad pieces of Cecelia’s life to show what leads her to enter the world of drugs and selling them. CeCe’s ended up in a really tough situation through very little fault of her own and I wanted to see her grow over time and forgive herself for the things she had no control over. She isn’t a character who won me over instantly but I certainly felt for her and wanted to see her story told. Overall, I was happy with how the ending left things for her.

This is a novel that shines light on the often under discussed topic of addiction: one that is both thought provoking and important. In the author’s note, Kelly Fiore says that the novel was inspired by watching a family member’s struggle with addiction and I really admire her ability to write such an in-depth, moving story about a very personal topic. Thicker Than Water is not a light read but it’s worth the time.

Rating: 9/10

Lauren is a 20-year-old student living in Northern Virginia. She loves to read YA books and watch movies. Lauren is passionate about many things, but reading has always been a huge part of her life. Ever since she first learned to read, her parents have always had to pry books out of her hands when it’s time for other commitments. Lauren loves everything from The Hunger Games and Divergent, to Percy Jackson, mysteries like State of the Onion, and other YA books, like The Fault in Our Stars, and is always eager to try a new book, author, or series. She also loves music, public health, Harry Potter, and the Washington Capitals. Follow her on Twitter: @LWengrovitz.