Review: Thicker Than Water – Kelly Fiore Stultz

18711172Cecelia 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.

Rating: 4/5

This is a book about a series of bad decisions. Bad decisions that end up in a downwards spiral towards tragedy. But it was a well-written read nevertheless, taking a look at family relationships, drug addition and teen rehabilitation.

What Cece does is wrong, no doubt about it, but there’s certainly a pervasive sense of unfairness that she is the one that takes all the blame, whilst the rich kids who bought from her, and the doctor who prescribed the pills, emerge scott-free. It’s also an interesting judgement of society where tertiary education is an unattainable privilege for many, and not a right easily accessed.

Regret forces us to relive the moments we hate the most – the moments that drove us into spiralling downfalls, the moments where we stopped living and started surviving. 

The book also showcases how addiction can so completely transform someone you know into someone unrecognisable. And quite apart from the drug aspect, we get insight into rather screwed up family dynamics – a talented elder child around whom the family is centered, a mother who dies of illness, a step-mother who is only distantly involved, a father who refuses to see anything wrong, and the tensions and problems that money shortages bring.

I did have a few qualms, namely the fact that the court case focuses on the fact of her brother’s death, more than the issue of her selling and dealing – which seems strange, considering the fact that she was directly responsible for the latter, but not the former. And again, the fact that Cece is the one taking the blame, despite everyone who facilitated the transactions – well, I guess that’s the (American) justice system for you?

Sad, hard-hitting but not sentimental, Thicker Than Water is a dark contemporary about one family’s utter disintegration.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication. 


8 thoughts on “Review: Thicker Than Water – Kelly Fiore Stultz

  1. Loved your review! I totally understand why the whole court situation bothered you! I hate books that are so obviously attacking a character, if that makes any sense… Like I understand they make bad decisions but I feel as though when THEY are attacked and others who helped are not affected, I usually dont like the book. It just annoys me I guess! I am however despite my lil rant happy you enjoyed this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed your review!


  2. Nice review! I just heard about this book and, your review included, I’ve seen only good things. Sadly, I think the situation described in the book, while frustrating, is all too common in America. The sellers are often charged with murder because they’re the easiest to link, while everyone else involved goes free. Not that I’m advocating for selling drugs, obviously, but the justice system rarely goes after corruption at higher levels. So it’s really realistic to me that they would be charging Cece with the death (although that’d probably just be one of a string of charges, including possession and dealing).

    Sarcasm & Lemons


    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree, it probably is a very realistic depiction, now that I consider it – I guess I was just wishing for a magical system of fairness, the consideration of extenuating circumstances, etc. But it’s a hard-hitting read nevertheless!


  3. Utter family disintegration sounds pretty heavy… I can see why you would complain about the charges brought against Cece; it seems unusual, though not impossible. Very good review.


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