Title: Punk 57
Series: Stand-alone
Author: Penelope Douglas
Release Date: October 21, 2016!

“We were perfect together. Until we met.”
I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.
In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.
It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…
And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.
Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.
We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?
Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?
F*ck it. I need to meet her.
I just don’t expect to hate what I find.
He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.
Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.
He could be gone forever.
Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.
"Eventually we all have to weigh what we want more: wanting back what we had or wanting what could be. To stay or to risk everything to move forward."

Penelope Douglas is my go-to author for dark teen romances. She perfectly illustrates teenage angst, the chaotic emotions and the unfettered recklessness that exists in those years, but she weaves in maturity and depth that ensure they're not meant for young readers. Her stories are as heavy as they are sensual, as dark as they are romantic. I went into Punk 57 craving the pleasure-pain this author is known for, the exquisite war between lust and cruelty, the delicious romance that evolves on the thin line between love and hate. What I wasn't expecting was how powerfully complex this storyline would be. It's gritty and sexy and completely addictive, but it's also a very profound demonstration of the weight of our words. I expected to find an entertaining, angsty romance between these pages. But Douglas' perfectly placed wording transformed this romance into something bigger, something powerful, something important that resonated with me long after the last page.

Misha and Ryen have been pen pals for years. Their friendship is a solid one built on the trust that they'd always be there for each other even though they've never met. They've supported each other, confided in each other, leaned on each other, all the while quietly reflecting on their growing romantic feelings. But when Misha accidentally discovers who Ryen is, a messy, unpredictable course of events begins to unfold and this story of friendship becomes an enemies to lovers romance rife with deception and secrecy. Punk 57 is a bit reminiscent of Bully and Corrupt, but with an intoxicating, original premise. The cruel push and pull between Misha and Ryen reminded me so much of Tate and Jared; the mutual disdain they often hold for each other mixed with their ruthless taunting reminded me of Michael and Rika. But while Misha and Ryen's story is very much their own, this unputdownable, tumultuous friends to enemies to lovers romance rivals Bully and Corrupt as one of my favorites from this author.

"How do you tell your friend— your best friend— that you’ve been right here, under her nose, playing with her like a puppet?"

Punk 57 is an edgy, unpredictable romance built on secrets and lies, loss and fear. But beyond the romance, the sex, the superficial friendships, there's a deeper message within these words. This story is ugly. It demands we face things we don't want to look at, feel things we don't want to feel. While the romantic heartbreak within this story hurts so good, it's the other side of this book, the cruelty, the bullying, the abuse, the assault, the truth of what humans have the capacity to inflict upon one another that's so disturbing and so difficult to read. But as dark as this story is, this book is a reminder that it gets better, that there's hope, that everything that's lost can be found again. This book is a reminder that we're not alone. It's a reminder to be brave, to lift each other up even when it's scary, to not give up. Punk 57 is about the power of words, the power they hold to inflict irreparable harm, to free us, to shame, to empower, their ability to lie and to release the truth. Words have the capacity to hurt and to heal, to destroy us and save us. Whether those words are spoken aloud or written in a letter or sung on stage or painted on a wall or printed in a beautifully brutal book, they hold the power to change our lives.

"You’re not alone. It gets better. You are important, and you can’t be replaced. Hang on."

Jessica's Rating:

Penelope Douglas is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author living in Las Vegas with her husband and their daughter. When she's not writing, you'll find her cleaning or trolling the IMDb message boards, arguing with other Star Wars fanatics. Her books include the Fall Away series (Bully, Until You, Rival, Falling Away, and Aflame). Please look for her recent standalones, Corrupt and Misconduct. Available now. Look for Punk 57, coming Oct. 21, 2016, and Next to Never (A Fall Away Novella) coming January 17, 2017.


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