Early Bird Review | The Radius of Us


About the Book: What happens when you fall in love with someone everyone seems determined to fear?

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores-Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid.

Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.

YA Contemporary
St. Martin’s Griffin | January 17, 2017
amazon2 bn2

I did not expect to love The Radius of Us as much as I did!  The synopsis sounded good, but after requesting I scheduled it and then forgot about it.  Is it bold if I say that I think a lot of people will, or have, done the same thing?  I haven’t seen many reviewers talking about The Radius of Us. I haven’t seen it on many ‘Diverse Books’ list, but it should be.

First, I have to talk a little about Perfect Chemistry.  I’m not sure if you guys remember, but it was so popular about 5 years ago.  It has a similar story, not about asylum seekers, but about Latino gang life in the US.  I never connected to the story, I thought it felt too much like a fantasized relationship with a gang member.  It didn’t feel honest.  I needed to mention that because for everything that I thought Perfect Chemistry got wrong, I think that The Radius of Us got right.  I felt like the representations in the story were more realistic, and that’s why I loved it so much.

My heart hurt so much for Phoenix and his brother Ari.  Phoenix fought so hard to get out of El Salvador and away from the gang violence, to save himself but mostly to save his brother.  Then to read how even the event of seeking asylum was fraught with perils.  I felt myself tearing up more than once for him, and especially for Ari.  My daughter is 12, the same age as Phoenix’s brother, and it killed me to imagine my daughter going through even a fraction of what Ari went through.

I also can’t minimize Gretchen’s trauma right here in the US.  I don’t want to talk to much about it, because what she went through is parceled out over the course of the story and it’s important that you read it as she gives it.

However, it was the two stories coming together that left me both sad and hopeful.  I was nervous and in love.  I believed the entire story from page one.  I would love to see more people reading and talking about this book, because I think the author did an amazing job.

Lastly I want to just mention the epilogue.  It seems like epilogues can be a bone of contention with readers.  Sometimes an epilogue is just too fluffy and pretty.  It wraps up the story too perfectly.  “They are happy, and everything is perfect, and look she’s pregnant!  And he’s got the promotion, and everything is PEACHY.”  But at the same time, we also struggle with wanting to know that everything will be okay.  Rest assured, the epilogue in The Radius is perfect.  One page.  A sweet overview that soothes your soul, but doesn’t saturate you in sweetness.  I think it was my favorite chapter of all.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

9 Responses

  1. Oh goodness, this book sounds amazing! I’ll def be adding it to my TBR. It did give a Perfect Chemistry vibe, it still sounds good. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy Perfect Chemistry too much. 😦


  2. Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads

    I’m really looking forward to this book! I haven’t seen many people talking about it so I’m glad to see you enjoyed it 🙂


  3. I am very author specific on epilogues. Some authors do them well, and some actually make the story worse with their epilogues. A specific one comes to mind.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Great review. 🙂


Tell me something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.