Blue Valentine

Fiction - Thriller - General
237 Pages
Reviewed on 12/31/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Perhaps you know a girl like Nicki Valentine. She might be a classmate. Or your best friend’s daughter. Or even your daughter. She’s one of those girls whose language and appearance offend most adults, and about whom classmates gossip and teachers despair. But as is always the case, no-one really knows why Nicki is who she is but those reasons are why Thomas Cummings sees her as the Blue Valentine. How will you see her, dear reader? If you’re patient with the rambling first person narrative Nicki shares with you, I guarantee you will come away wishing her only the best. She’s certainly earned the right to a better life than she’s had so far. Nicki has only one true friend, her half-brother Quinn, but even that friendship is in constant peril. But without being able to call on Quinn when the going gets rough, Nicki might not survive life. She is now a big problem for those who turned her life into a living hell when she was a young teen and they are back to eradicate her from their pasts once and for all. They have the money and power to do so, but will they succeed? If desperate times call for desperate measures, Nicki and Quinn could write a book on what to do next.

Blue Valentine is utterly riveting as it takes you deep inside Nicki’s psyche and helps you understand her reasoning and motivation. As the narrator, she talks to readers as if we were sitting across from her in a dark cafe corner. She confides in us, hoping we’ll understand but accepting that we might not. But we do understand and are forever moved by her story, by her observations on people and by her reflections on a too often unkind, prejudicial society. Prepare yourself for some frequent strong language and some graphic sexual scenes…all essential and realistic if we are to understand Nicki’s social demographic. This is one of the most touching and poignant coming of age stories I’ve ever read. Sadly, I’m certain there are thousands of blue valentines in today’s schools and homes. Don’t miss reading Blue Valentine. Well worth your attention.

Amanda Rofe

Blue Valentine by Thomas Cummings is a YA novel describing events in the brazen life of Nicki Valentine. Living in a small town in Oregon, she was raised by an emotionally absent mother and a father who increasingly drank too much. Her half-brother, Quinn Halliday, is the only shining light in her world. As children, they grew close which didn't go down too well with her parents. As adults, they are still close and Quinn is always there to bail her out of trouble. One evening, she recklessly picks up a group of men in a bar. They have an ulterior motive in mind, one which she can't quite figure out. She escapes their clutches and goes in search of the answer which she finds firmly embedded in her past.

This is a gritty novel describing a sassy woman who deep down many wish they could be like, but in reality are relieved they are not. The first few pages had me disliking Nicki Valentine but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with her smart-mouth attitude and strength of character. Thomas Cummings writes skilfully, twisting the story line unexpectedly and catching the reader unawares. He provides an emotional ride, beginning with Nicki's destructive behavior, and ending with a full exposé of her poignant young life. Shockingly, we find her to be a victim who had been betrayed in the worst possible way. Blue Valentine is a refreshing and compelling novel revealing just how easy it is to take the wrong path on the convoluted journey of life.

K.C. Finn

Blue Valentine is an edgy work of thriller fiction penned by author Thomas Cummings, written strictly for adults due to much graphic content. Our heroine is the rough and tough Nicki Valentine: a street smart beauty with hatred in her heart and a powerful will to survive. Pinned by her small town as an outrageous slut, a drifter and a bad girl psycho, Nicki shrugs everything off and seeks comfort with the one person she can trust: her half-brother Quinn. But her solitary, closed-off lifestyle comes to an end when figures from her grim past start to make a play for her life, forcing her to open the old Pandora’s Box and let her feelings – and rage - about her childhood loose.

Author Thomas Cummings most definitely surprised me with this intelligent look at modern life for the lower-class ‘bad girls’, as they are labelled. Nicki is a sensitive and intelligent heroine who, in many other circumstances, might have been upheld for her beauty and her brains. But in the world where she lives, she has been beaten down and ostracized because of it. The pressure that society puts on her is palpable and well created, and both the emotional journey through her past and the novel’s conclusion serve to send a powerful message about how we treat people based both on class and gender. Overall, Blue Valentine is an engaging and thrilling tale in itself, but one which also expands into a more meaningful commentary on the world as it is now.

Keith Julius

Thomas Cummings writes about people. In Blue Valentine, his characters are multi-dimensional, coming across as real, instead of the type of cardboard cutouts that often populate fiction. We see the story through the eyes of Nicki Valentine, who isn't shy about admitting how much she enjoys having a good time and being a slut when the occasion arises, which happens often enough that she has established quite a reputation around town. She uses men and stays aloof from people in general, including her alcoholic father and abusive mother. The only friend she has is Quinn Halladay, her half-brother from her father's affair with the neighbor down the road. Nicki and Quinn look out for one another, and share in the kind of relationship that draws closer over the years and ignores the bad parts of their lives.

We find out early in Blue Valentine that there is more to Nicki Valentine than meets the eye. There is a secret in her life, one she strives to keep hidden, even from herself, and author Thomas Cummings does a masterful job of bringing out the pathos and rejection that has made Nicki the person she has become. Much of the story is told in flashback, as the pieces of her life slowly start to come together and the tragedy behind her facade comes to light. This is not necessarily a pretty picture to watch develop, but there's no denying that the details of this story will stick with you long after you are finished reading it. A moving and heartbreaking story, there are many good things to be found in this book.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Nicki has never had the easiest life and she’s never understood why. She’s never understood what it is about her that her mother hates so much, at least until that day in elementary school when she finds out the truth about the boy down the road. Quinn is a novelty to start, but as the days go by and the years go on, he becomes more than just a novelty. He becomes a lifeline for Nicki and she becomes the lifeline that he needs as well. When everything goes south, they just might be the only thing each other has in Blue Valentine by Thomas Cummings.

Retribution is something that Nicki Valentine knows very well, but when it comes to facing up to her past, she’s more terrified than she’s ever been. That night will be forever etched in her mind and it’s something that no one will ever forget either. She’s going to make sure of that. This is a story of her retribution. Her love. Her redemption. And above all else, her desire to finally make things right for the younger self that struggled and suffered for someone else’s wrongs. It’s time that she takes charge of her own life and with Quinn and some unexpected allies at her side she’s not going to be the victim anymore. She’s going to take control and finally take back what was stolen from her all those years ago.