Review: Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore Stultz

Saturday, December 5, 2015
Title: Thicker Than Water
Author: Kelly Fiore Stultz
Genre: contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Published: expected Jan 2016
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated.

Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills.

Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome.

Thicker Than Water is an unforgettable dark, harrowing look into the disturbing truth of drug addiction and the desperate love of a sister watching her brother deteriorate before her eyes.

Darker YA contemporaries are often my favorites to read and books like Thicker Than Water are why I return again and again to that specific type of story. Kelly Fiore has successfully written two entertaining and fluffy YAs in the last few years, but it's with her more recent darker effort that I truly find myself becoming involved. This isn't an easy read and Fiore/Stultz isn't afraid to go to dark places with her story and characters or to go for a believable conclusion instead of the expected. Thicker Than Water is a look at drugs and mistakes and growing up; it's a refreshingly honest and real piece of YA literature.

In a way, this novel reminded me of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly from earlier this year. Like Minnow before her, CeCe is a complicated narrator and one whose story is revealed in pieces. Her world is far from black and white. It's made of gray and so too is she as a character. CeCe is in a bad place - mentally, emotionally, physically -- and she's imperfect and grieving. Without veering into spoilers, the author fleshes out CeCe and Cy well -- Cy mostly through flashback -- and adds in a few side characters to give weight to a few minor plotlines. However, this book is really just about CeCe and her brother. Everything else is just the fallout and determining guilt. 

Though inoffensive, I thought the slight but still-present romance was unnecessary for the story in Thicker Than Water and for the character herself. It doesn't help that the love interest isn't has characterized as CeCe, Cyrus, or her dad. The main emotion in the novel stems from CeCe's devolcing relationship with Cy and her inability to get through to her dad. I did like that therapy was such a big focus in how CeCe was treated and rehabilitated. Thicker Than Water doesn't sugarcoat anything; from living with an addict to dealing with the death of a loved one. 

There are parts of this novel that really hit home, though this was far from my personal kind of family dysfunction. CeCe's story is memorable and sadly, definitely plausible. Thicker Than Water is darker and realistic but it also made me think and for that, I recommend it.



  1. I wasn't really sure about this because the author's first books were fluff and this is kind of a departure from those themes, but your review makes it sound so good! I love that the book has a positive reflection of therapy as that's so dearly missing from YA. It's a shame about the romance. I've noticed we've kind of been moving away from shoehorned romances, so it's bleh when they pop up again.

    1. I actually didn't finish the author's first two. They were too fluffy and too light. But this? This was the opposite and it worked so so well. I read another YA that had a positive therapy spin lately too! I will think and remember & tweet you!


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