Lexi Crandall’s, world is turned upside down junior year of high school. Her confession tears her family apart and leaves them broken. Looking for escape, she heads out of town for college. Wracked with guilt and shame, she keeps to herself, befriending only her roommate, Paige.
Derek Fressen experiences one tragedy after another. After learning to cope with being raised by a single mom, he and his sister, Tiffany, become closer than ever. When Tiffany escapes Seattle for college, Derek takes the opportunity to leave his past behind as well.
San Francisco State University is where Lexi and Derek find themselves junior year, thrown into the most uncomfortable situation possible, a group project that requires each to open up about their past. Their grade depends upon the ability to prove to the professor through a class presentation that they truly learned about one another.
Painful memories and terrifying tests of courage propel Lexi to learn how to take baby steps in the healing process and give her hope of one day feeling normal. Although he feels he’s pretty well healed from the horrible events of his past, Derek is lonely and longing for a life of more. Will they be able to share enough of their lives with each other to pass this class? How much will Lexi let Derek help her in the process? Are their tragic pasts too much to overcome, or will love be in their future?
Project Lexi is not an easy read. It is based on the sensitive and emotional subjects of abuse and recovery from the betrayal of a family. The author did a great job at presenting the view from a survivor and letting us see all the emotions that linger after the crime is brought to some sort of light. While this is not a fluffy light read, I do think the author balanced the intensity more towards the gentle side which to me was not a cop out in this case but more of a showing of respect to everyone affected by such events.
Lexi will forever live with the fact that doing the right thing is also the very thing that tore her family apart. She grew up with three siblings a mother and father but also a boat load of secrets and lies. When college starts she packs up and leaves to get as far away from the memories and people as possible. She begins her new life with one friend, her roommate and a heavy load of college courses to keep her busy. Only two people in that area know about her past, her roommate and her therapist and that is how Lexi wants to keep it. Plans don’t always go as she wishes when she is thrown into a project for a class with the assigned partner Derek.
I will just admit it now I loved Derek. He is so focused on getting his education he won’t even live on campus and get involved with the party crowd. He went down that path for a bit earlier and his sister reminded him that he was who she looked up to so now his focus is on being the man his sister and mother can be proud of. He carries so much guilt and baggage regarding three important people in his life, but that guilt has also allowed him to see the pain in Lexi’s eyes and the need to protect her becomes stronger than any other emotion he has felt. He stays isolated most of the
time, going to the gym, school and looking for a part time job so he is happy to have her come to his place to work on the project and making her dinner. Every moment he shares with her becomes a treasure to him and a way for him to get to know what is causing her so much fear and hurt. The class project requires them to communicate with each other about their lives. He can tell this is going to be hard for her so he takes each step slowly to make it as comfortable for her as possible.
As the story goes on you see a lot of back and forth between them but Derek never loses his patience for her. Lexi doesn’t understand how he can care about her so soon, what does he want from her? The bigger question for her is what does she have left to give him? For some reason he just gets her and understands that she needs her personal space and the need to not be touched. He finally finds a way to show her that she isn’t the only one with skeletons in the closet, demons that invade their sleep and cause nightmares that last all day. She really isn’t alone in the pain she is feeling and that is what makes her see why he understands her so well. Slowly she lets down some of the walls and he appears to bull doze the rest until they are at the point that a relationship might be possible. Derek also has to deal with some surprising events from his mom that will push his acceptance and patience level up even higher.
The book was emotional as I stated earlier but for me it lacked some character development that would have allowed me to invest more of my heart. The author used dual POV style in the book and that caused some repeating of events
which made me feel the book dragged out a bit too much. Also for the first half of the book it was pretty much a lather, wash, repeat style with her getting closer, running, going to therapy, and repeat. Once she was able to cross the line into new territory I felt the story on her part picked up a bit.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has the compassion to care and understand the level of pain Lexi was going through. It isn’t for someone who wants a quick solution to the angst and we have a happy ever after story. I
believe the author kept this work of fiction as close to reality as possible and did a great job at expressing the exhausting emotions that are involved.
I can’t get her to look at me, I think she’s ashamed that she has no experience to go with. When I’m finally begging, she looks up and I can’t help it. She looks so lost, so sad. I know that she just needs the courage, but how will she ever find it if she doesn’t know what the reward is like? So I lean over, I place my hand on her cheek, and my lips on hers. She doesn’t freak out, so I use my tongue to entice her. I run it along her lower lip. I feel her breathing pick up and I’m nervous she’ll push me away, but when she doesn’t I try to coax her lips apart so I can really kiss her. When she opens them, her tongue meets mine and I have to keep repeating to myself, “Slow, slow, slow,” or my body might take over and try to push her past her limits. She’s not ready for more than this.
I don’t let myself linger too long. I would love to kiss her all night, but she needs baby steps. I need to give her that or this won’t work. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself, but I should’ve made sure it was okay first.” I say it knowing that she needed the surprise of it or it would’ve never happened.
Her response takes me by surprise, “Don’t. Be. Sorry.” She is breathing hard and can’t form a sentence. I love it. That means she loved it. When she brings her hand up to touch her lips, I know I can make this better for her. I stop her hand with mine and leaving the other on her cheek, I lean back in for a deeper kiss. She responds immediately. I make this one longer, but not much. This time when I pull back, we are both panting for air.
“Wow.” A simple statement from her confirming that she liked it.
I’m Lisa. I live in sunny southern California with my wonderful husband and two teenage children. Hubbyis a high school PE teacher and is the coach of three different high school sports. With two kids in high school and involved in activities both inside and outside of school, I have a lot to juggle. When home, I lock myself inside the office to write. I’ve always loved to write, but life always seemed to be too busy. When inspiration finally hit, I made the most of the time hubby and kids were busy and published my first book in February 2014. It’s a teen/young adult book and the first in a series. I’m currently working on a New Adult/Contemporary Romance series with the first book due out end of June 2014. Be on the look-out for more.
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