Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Within these Walls by J.L. Berg

Publisher: J.L. Berg, LLC (3/18/2014)
Series: Within These Walls, book 1
Genre: New Adult
Source: Purchased
Purchase links || amazon | bn || add to goodreads

Rating: ★★★1/2

From USA Today Bestselling author J.L. Berg, comes a breathtaking story that shows us how love truly can conquer all...even the most damaged of hearts.

Within these walls, he became my solace, my sanctuary and my strength.

I am not strong. I am just a survivor of circumstance.

Isn't that what we all do? Survive?

Each of us has our own set of circumstances to muddle through. Mine are just more...complicated.

Born with a severe heart defect, I've seen the inside of a hospital room more than my own bedroom.

I was drowning, a prisoner to the illness that owned me, until he appeared. He thinks he's blocked out the world with his tattoos and hard exterior, but I see the real Jude, the one he so desperately wants to forget.

But is he the answer to my prayers or will he break my already damaged heart forever?

My name is Lailah Buchanan, and this is our story of hope, redemption and sacrificing it all for the one you love.

***Due to some graphic language and explicit scenes, this book is not recommended for readers under the age of 18.***

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about J.L. Berg || J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she's not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC. 

{ review } .
This story...

If you're looking for a book full of feels, this is the one for you.

WITHIN THESE WALLS is a story of two people confined to the walls of the hospital, but for different reasons. Lailah is stuck in the hospital; Jude chooses the prison that the hospital has become for him.

Right away from the beginning, you are gripped with everything that Lailah feels. She is a young twenty-something who has spent many of her years in the hospital, having been born with a heart defect. The very beginning of the story, you're immersed in her joy -- she's finally getting to go home after spending so long in the hospital this current stay. And when that's taken away from her?

...you can hear the heartbreak in her whispered, "Why?"

FYI, I had to appreciate Lailah's comment about how it felt like a meat locker at night. As a night CNA, I can attest to that. I feel that when I leave the gym in the summer months, wearing longsleeves, I get funny looks, but I just want to shoot back at them, "Have you ever spent the night in a hospital?!" -- at about one in the morning, the temperatures plummet. It doesn't matter if I'm wearing a longsleeve under my scrubs and a fleece jacket: my bones are chilled. 

Spending so much time in the hospital, and having a mother who has understandably sheltered her, she lives vicariously through television and books. To make up for it, she's made a "Someday List" -- a list of things she would do if she were 'normal'.

Jude has been spending the last three years punishing himself. One night, while he and his fiancee were heading on a vacation, they stopped for a party. Megan was tired, but Jude didn't want to drive. After a game of rock-paper-scissors, Megan became the driver...

Moments later, she fell asleep at the wheel.

Jude can't forgive himself; he's spent days walking the halls of the hospital, refusing to let it go. A hospital worker, Margaret, go him a job as a janitor and eventually into a CNA role. He works in the ER, enjoying the fast pace, but also enjoying the fact that he doesn't need to get to know anyone. 

Unfortunately, that changes when he's told he is getting a department change, and he ends up on the cardiology unit. The only bright spot? He gets to work with Dr. Marcus -- a man who has been his ally and friend through the years.

When he first sees Lailah, she's eating pudding with her fingers and it makes him smile. Starting that night, he leaves pudding (with a spoon... just in case) for her while she sleeps. When Lailah catches him one night, it is the start of a blossoming friendship. They share pudding and play games over his lunch break, but anytime the conversation gets too personal, he flees, leaving Lailah confused.

I loved every moment of this young love. Jude was such a good friend for Lailah -- as an ear, as the person holding her hair, as well as the person wanting to help her cross the items off of her list. However, he begins to feel guilty for enjoying life again, and that guilt further morphs when he learns a little more about Lailah and her situation.

In the beginning of the story, I rather enjoyed the ebb and flow of the plot -- Lailah's parts were fairly uplifting, even through her sad parts; Jude's parts were dark and depressing. You would read an uplifting, hopeful section, and it would be followed with a dark, guilty section. And when Lailah finally gives Jude something to smile about, you want to cheer -- until that shoe drops and he remembers why he chose this particular prison.

As the story progresses, you can't help but fall in love for these two. While Lailah's never been in love, she recognizes when Jude makes her feel. Before the first kiss, you can hear the excitement in her thoughts at even just the idea of seeing him again that night, and you can hear the disappointment when he doesn't come. You feel the awkwardness after their pizza, when Jude starts to withdraw and Lailah's left questioning 'why'. You understand that guilt that Jude goes through, and you feel for him. Yet equally, you want to slap him silly because there was a reason why he survived and why Lailah's misfortunes brought them together.

Such a sweet, sweet story...

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