The Hollow Inside
By Mary Eisenhart,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Thriller catches kidnapped teen in twisted revenge plot.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
There's a long storytelling tradition of buried past misdeeds coming back to get you at a really bad moment, and The Hollow Inside is a finely crafted, suspenseful addition to a genre that goes back to Greek tragedy and beyond. Besides being a riveting read, it's a good study for would-be writers on how to construct a compelling story.
If you wrong someone and seem to get away with it, it's going to have disastrous consequences for you and everyone you love, in ways you can't even foresee. If you build your life on lies, it's vulnerable to a lot of unwanted truth.
Positive Role Models
There are pretty much no entirely positive characters here, as everyone is caught up in the dark, twisty consequences of a life-changing wrong, warping a lot of moral compasses. The dad Phoenix barely remembers was kind and supportive in the past but is now long gone. The wife of the man who (unbeknownst to her) had an affair with an adoring teen and betrayed her, and is now a famous self-help author, is kind, loving, and coping with a disintegrating family.
Violence & Scariness
At least two murders committed by characters are important to the story. Phoenix is kidnapped at age 9 by her dad's ex-girlfriend, and hasn't seen her dad since. A baby is kidnapped and presumed killed. As the story opens, Phoenix, caught in the act by the man whose house she's burglarizing, knocks him down the stairs and leaves him unconscious and badly injured, briefly considering calling an ambulance and then fleeing instead. A teen punches a classmate who's bothering his sister. Suspicious, potentially deadly "accidents" are part of a revenge plot. Lots of emotional violence, past and present, as characters deflect responsibiity for their own misdeeds (to "protect their family"), gaslight their accusers, and ruin lives. "His power is in the way he draws people to him... He's handsome but approachable. He has a face people want to trust. A strong voice. And just the right words.Always just the right words. Once he's got you, he could bury a knife in your gut, and you'd die telling everyone that it was your own fault."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An affair between a teen and an older, married man has fateful consequences, including a child. Two teen girls share a bed and a makeout session, but don't get past that because they're in the preacher's house. One stares a lot as the other undresses. A teen causes a huge scandal in her small town when she kisses a girl at a party.
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Plentiful strong language including "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "horses--t," "screwed it up," "bitch," "a--hole," "ass," "hell," "goddamn," "Jesus!"
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Products & Purchases
Occasional mention of brands for scene-setting.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine to celebrate. Teen characters sneak liquor and get sloppy drunk. An adult character who's been betrayed by a family member becomes an abusive drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hollow Inside, by first-time author Brooke Lauren Davis, is a riveting, dark, twisty, and brilliantly crafted revenge tale with lots of losers and no clear winners. The story opens as the 16-year-old narrator burglarizes the latest in a long series of houses, something that's been going on for years, being the way she and her "mom" (actually her dad's ex-girlfriend, who kidnapped her years ago) make a living. Caught in the act by the homeowner, she knocks him down the stairs, leaving him bleeding and unconscious while she makes a run for it. This is just the beginning of a whole lot of bad, ultimately murderous deeds, past and present, stemming from a naive teen's affair with a married man, who denied all when she got pregnant, and is now a world-famous self-help author with a "perfect" family. Now the victim, aka "mom," is going for long-planned revenge and taking the narrator along. Teen girls ogle and kiss each other, and share a bed with plenty of sexual tension but also no privacy. Adults and teens drink, and one adult character is a drunk. Abundant strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and "goddamn."
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
THE HOLLOW INSIDE reveals layer after layer of lies, betrayal, and murder, as an obsessed, much-wronged woman seeks revenge on the man who destroyed her life years ago. Lending a hand in it all is 16-year-old narrator Phoenix (not her real name), who's been on the run with the woman for seven years, surviving by grifting, burglary, and a steady diet of the self-help books written by the evildoer, who's now a much-admired best-selling author with a seemingly perfect life and family. Bringing the truth to light at last is supposed to right wrongs and restore balance, but it's a rocky road with an uncertain destination.
Is It Any Good?
This compelling thriller is a riveting read, as dark deeds, past and present, unfold amid suspense, surprises, and complex characters. Full of plot twists and sudden insights, it's a worthy addition to the harrowing revenge genre. You might not love any of the characters in The Hollow Inside as people, but you'll probably find yourself thinking about them a lot.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the revenge theme in The Hollow Inside. Some revenge tales portray a righting of wrongs that makes a better future possible. Others find that once you start down that path it destroys you and all you love. What stories do you like that address this?
When everyone in your community owes their happy life to something that turns out to be a lie, do you think most people would prefer to hear the truth, however unwelcome, or continue to hush it up? What could go wrong in either scenario? What positive outcome might happen?
Do you like self-help books? What do you like about their authors, and what they have to say?
- Author: Brooke Lauren Davis
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
- Publication date: May 25, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 26, 2022
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Where to Read
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