No Turning Back was an incredibly emotional and heart-pounding journey. I stayed up late and put everything else aside because I just had to finish it and see what happened.
To start things off, Livvy is already dealing with some serious trauma that is affecting her ability to perform. We get a feel for what happened, but don't really find out the full details of the situation until later. To try and get her mojo back by singing in front of a smaller audience, she joins a church outreach group as part of the choir. But their outreach isn't what she expected. It's in San Quentin prison, and while she does decide to go (or we wouldn't have a story), it's reluctantly.
You can feel the tension building this whole time, and we know what's going to happen. But when it does, and the riot breaks out, it still floored me. The reactions, the danger, the help coming from surprising places. Livvy finds herself running with the help of an inmate that is trying to protect her. But she has caught the eye of a very bad man - like one of the worst I've read about, and he is determined to hunt her down. Not only that, but Livvy is separated from her group and in a sea of men that are mostly out for whatever they can get their hands on.
One of the things I loved the most about this book was the characters' faith. It wasn't perfect, but it was incredibly real. When things hit the fan, there was doubt, there was prayer, there was bargaining with God to do something - anything - to save their friends. And faith also brought help from some pretty surprising places. It was incredibly powerful.
The prison itself was detailed beautifully and without this living, breathing backdrop, the story wouldn't have worked. The place seemed to have a life of its own and lived by rules that seemed foreign to me. The culture is different, the politics are different, the people (guards and prisoners) are different. Katie Vorreiter brought the place and the people to life for me.
This book is one that will sit with me for a while in all the best ways. I keep revisiting passages and thinking about everything that happened. It has been the highlight of the year so far.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**