Sell Out by Tammy L. Gray (Review)

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Kindle Price: $3.99

Official Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

“Like many elite private schools, Madison High has a legacy steeped in traditions, none of which revolve around learning. Survival is simple: keep your head down, don’t say a word, and never question school royalty.

Cody James, a former victim of Madison’s vicious brand of hazing, wants nothing more than to graduate without breaking the unspoken rules that could land him back in social exile. Cody has breached the elusive inner circle, and he has no intention of losing his hard-earned security. But a beautiful new student shakes up his plan to coast by and causes him question his role as sidekick to the king of the school.

As the only daughter of rock legend Donnie Wyld, Skylar has been homeschooled her entire life. Now she wants normal, and she hopes that Madison High will offer her an escape from her father’s deteriorating health. She never intended on catching the eye of the school’s self-elected king or falling for his confusing best friend. But one look at Cody James, and she is drawn in by his guarded vulnerability.

When an average Friday night party turns into a nightmare, Cody is forced to make a decision—fight or follow. But standing up for the bullied and broken means facing a past he’s long buried and risking the future he’s worked so hard to achieve.”

My Review:

Ahhh. I really liked Sell Out. It was a delightful book that wrestled with deep issues like bullying/hazing. I’m still trying to steer away from heavy books, but Gray made it possible to understand how serious bullying is while not drowning me in depression.

I liked Cody the most. Skylar wasn’t so bad, but Cody had my heart. In this book, there is no subtle growth for Cody, if it’s in his face, it’s in your face. Gray took great care in making sure that you understood, first hand, the demons that Cody wrestled with. I loved it. There was no “I AM A MAN AND I HAVE NO FEELINGS” theme, but instead it was “I have feelings and a painful past that I try to forget.” and that’s so important. In so many books, the male character has a painful past just to spice things up or to make him seem dark and dangerous. This was not so for Cody. Cody’s painful past was raw and it broke my heart for him, but I loved seeing him overcome it. He had to listen to advice from people he trusted and from himself to tackle his problems head on and it wasn’t just because of Skylar. It was because that’s what Cody needed to progress in his life. Excellent.

Skylar wasn’t an awful character or anything, but I can’t say I exactly like her. I have to give her credit for having her priorities in place. Once she met Cody, she didn’t suddenly place him on a pedestal and worship him, but kept him on the ground but as someone she liked. I really appreciated this scene especially:

“What about you? Us?”

“My father’s [sick], Cody. That’s the only ‘us’ I can worry about right now.” And with those words, she walked away.”

I was impressed by that, truthfully. I often find myself screaming at main characters that there are more important things than the ‘us’ they share with their significant other, but I didn’t have to scream about that here. Skylar was great for Cody too, and not in the “You make him smile. He hasn’t smiled in a long time. Thank you, Skylar.” way, but in the “You encourage him and push him in the right direction, even when it hurts.” way which was awesome.
The only thing I didn’t really like about Skylar was that she gave into rumors really quickly. Any time there was a rumor, she immediately believed it without giving Cody a chance. It was extremely annoying and unfair to Cody.

Skylar and Cody’s relationship was great. It started off as insta-love, but progressed into more than just attraction.They really bonded over the moments they were given and it was obvious that there was mutual respect and genuine love was budding. They’re one of the few fictional Young Adult couples that I believe could really last.

I liked the friendship between Cody and Lindsay. I won’t mention too much, but I was extremely pleased that Cody didn’t drop her when things got tough, especially when Skylar was being gross about it.

The plot was great and Gray’s choice to have the perspectives switch between Cody and Skylar was brilliant and necessary. Although books with one perspective can work just fine, this was the kind of book that reached its full potential by having more than one point of view. Sell Out is focused on bullying, the after-math of bullying, internal growth, painful experiences, how to overcome it all, and more. Gray brought forth an exceptional example of each one.
There are Christian morals and values, but I don’t think it’s preachy or given in a pushy manner. It’s enough to see where Gray based the character’s hope on, but not too much that if someone not in the Christian faith would be turned off.

Would I recommend Sell Out? I hope I’m not selling out (sorry) by saying this, but yes! I do recommend Sell Out. It isn’t too heavy, but it’s also not completely light hearted. It was a great read. The only thing is that the flashbacks of bullying were graphic and maybe if you’ve experienced something similar (for example, fat-shaming), you might be triggered.

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