The author dives you into the story right away, which at the beginning was a little overwhelming for me because I couldn’t quite grasp what was going on, but you slowly find your way into the story and get involved in everything that’s happening. We get to know Mayhem Brayburn, who’s a teenager that has had a rough life, with her father dying when she was very young and her mother Roxy stuck in an abusive relationship.
Mayhem was a very realistic character. The author did a good job at depicting what a girl that was raised in an abusive household might behave and what might go through the mind of someone in that situation. She constantly debates whether to face the abuser or hold back because of the fear that has paralyzed her and her mother all those years. Sadly, Roxy didn’t have as much of a development as I would’ve like. What I thought would be a story where we could see her improving and healing from the trauma turned out to be quite the opposite. I also couldn’t see her as a mother figure for Mayhem, as she was barely present in her daughter’s life.
The story has a slow pace, and it takes its sweet time building the characters and the plot. The story is set in 1987, and while I always love books set in the past, I think Mayhem could’ve used some more references to the year the story took place. Another thing also worth noticing is the family found kind of vibe in Mayhem’s friend circle, Neve, Kidd and the others show her the support she doesn’t get in her home. They fill her in the dangers of the beach town and make her a stronger person, which was really entertaining to read.
The book plays with different time periods, going back and forth between decades in small flashback chapters. They were great and kept the suspense as to why was important to know about Mayhem and Roxy’s ancestors. Time jumps are always a hit or miss for me but this time it was perfectly executed and necessary for the story.
Different kinds of abuse play an important part on Mayhem, and the author made a good job at making the feelings of the Brayburn girls very raw and real, transcending the page and getting to the readers’ hearts. I got emotionally invested with the characters and their struggles, and I feel many people that decide to pick up this book will get attached to them as well.
Disclaimer: I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review. All thoughts stated are my own.
Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.
That’s all for this post! I hope you liked it. Do you want to read Mayhem? What is your favorite book set in the 80s? Let me know in the comments!