By: Jade C. Jamison
My Rating: 3 Stars
Rock Bottom is the follow-up book to Bullet by Jade C. Jamison. In Bullet you follow Valerie on her journey as she ventures out into the world after high school. She heads off to college and there she meets Ethan, a gorgeous rocker, whom she falls head over heals for but all is not what it appears with Ethan. Ethan Richards is troubled in ways that Valerie never could have imagined. She tries to save him but he won’t let her in for fear of damaging Valerie whom he considers his muse. I’ll admit, I hated Ethan at the end of Bullet. In fact, I hated most of the main characters. I thought Ethan was a horrible, egotistical, self-centered jerk. Valerie was an unbelievable, weak, and sad heroine. And Brad was just a fool for pining over Valerie when it was obvious she was never going to give him the time of day. I was angry with the whole story, the situation and the outcome with Bullet. I have to admit that I couldn’t bring myself to read Rock Bottom when I was finished. I felt like I had to separate myself from those characters for fear that all their enabling would rub off on to me in some way shape or form. But after a month or so, I decided to read Rock Bottom and I’m glad I did.
In Rock Bottom, Jade C. Jamison, works explain who Ethan Richards is to the reader. We didn’t get this in Bullet so it was really helpful. It allowed the reader to, if not sympathize, to at least better understand why Ethan acted the way he did toward Valerie for so many years. Rock Bottom picks up about a year about the events which led to Valerie leaving Ethan for good. Fresh out of rehab and seeking out some sort of counseling services, Ethan is referred to a group run by Jenna McCormick, a drug and alcohol counselor, who has her own addictive demons she’s dealing with. When the two meet it’s obvious there is a connection between them that neither can deny. And while Ethan is all for moving forward, Jenna is skeptical about getting into a relationship with Ethan who is clearly dealing with some serious issues that Jenna isn’t sure she can truly help him overcome. In the end, they decide to become friends, but that quickly escalates into something more serious. Together they must face Ethan’s demons and his past as he tries to reestablish a relationship with his son and as he seeks forgiveness from his band members including his best friend Brad and his ex-wife Valerie.
Rock Bottom was a surprisingly good read. I’ll admit I did enjoy this book. It was heart-breaking and painful at times to read through the experiences of both Ethan and Jenna. But the ultimate redemption for the two characters made the journey worthwhile. I particularly enjoyed the inner dialogue of Ethan. There was so much more to him than the outwardly ugly Ethan that he presented to everyone in Bullet. His outward appearance is the shield that he’s spent years creating which no one can crack. This ultimately protects him from further damage. In addition, I found it incredibly interesting reading about an addictive personality. I’ve known people who suffer from addiction but never have myself and have found it hard to understand where they are coming from. This book delves rather deeply into addictive personalities, and their thought processes. I thought that Jamison did a great job of developing Ethan Richards between Bullet and Rock Bottom and while I didn’t like the first book, I think it’s a necessary read in order to truly understand and enjoy this book.
All that said, there was one big issue that kept me from giving this book a higher rating. This flaw in the plot line, I felt, truly weakened the book and made it less than believable. I kept getting hung-up on the fact that Jenna was Ethan’s group leader. From a purely ethical perspective of someone who is trained to work in any social field, there is a high level of ethics involved in these career fields. The level of trust that patients place in their counselors is vast and all consuming. Patients with mental and addictive issues are broken and fragile in so many ways and many can barely stand to face the most simple of life’s issues. This said, the fact that Jenna is the head of the group where Ethan attends completely contradicts with what health professionals would do in real life. Jamison attempts to deal with this issue by stating that Jenna leads this group as a volunteer and that she struggles with getting involved with Ethan while being his actual counselor so she decides not to be his counselor. However, by remaining his group leader and still getting involved with him both romantically and sexually, she breaks every rule that health professionals have and the oaths they agree to uphold. I think there were were better ways in which Jamison could have brought the two characters together and kept the plot the same and Jenna’s career the same. That said, this issue is what made me give this book a three star rating. It was a great read, but the ethical questions left me feeling a tad unhappy with the book overall.