Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti
“In here,” he said, pushing on the skin above my heart, “you’re ten below zero. And you’re closer to death than I am.”
My name is Parker. My body is marked with scars from an attack I don’t remember. I don’t want to remember. I choose to live my life by observation, not through experience. While people are laughing and kissing and connecting, I’m in the corner. Watching them live. I’m indifferent to everything, everyone. The only emotion I feel with any kind of depth is annoyance, and I feel it often.
A text message sent to the wrong number proves to be my undoing.
His name is Everett, but I call him rude. He’s pushy, he’s arrogant, he crowds my personal space, and worst of all: he makes me feel.
He chooses to wear all black, all the time, as if he’s waiting to attend a funeral. Probably because he is.
Everett is dying. And he’s spending his final days living, truly living. In doing so, he’s forcing me to feel, to heal. To come face to face with the demons I suppressed in my memory.
He hurts me, he fulfills me, he completes me. And still, he’s dying.
It happened to all of us once or twice. You get a text message from an unknown person and you know it wasn’t meant for you. Either you ignore the text or you reply, telling the stranger they have the wrong number. Yet have you ever wondered what would happen if you pretended to be oblivious to their mistake and answer like it was meant for you to begin with?
You’re about to find out.
This is the story of Parker and Everett and how a simple text message to the wrong number can alter the course of two persons’ entire lifetime. They both have their own demons. They both are broken, but what happens when two broken souls come together?
Parker wears the unmistakable reminder of an attack she can’t remember. After being attacked, Parker grabbed a hold of indifference in order to survive. As long as she didn’t feel anything, for anyone, nothing could tear her down again. She lives her life observing that of others and she likes it that way. When she receives a text message that was never meant for her to begin with, she decides to humour fate for once and goes to meet the guy who send it.
Everett is honest to a fault. He’s honest to the point of rudeness and he annoys Parker to the point of making her skin itch. He’s arrogant and pushy and he embraced that about himself, a firm believer that hiding behind words that aren’t truthful is never without consequences. Even though Everett constantly gets on her nerves, Parker can’t help but feel something for the first time in a very long time. Yet Everett’s demons are chasing him faster than he could ever run. And he accepted it. Knowing his time is limited, he is set on making the rest of his days count.
“Everyone is going to die, Parker. You’re going to die, I’m going to die, we’re all going to die. And I want to leave this world with a little dignity. I want to spend the rest of my life, no matter how much is left of it, doing what I want.”
He’s also set on making Parker feel again. On making her live again. Yet for Parker, feeling comes with a price.
“I felt something throb painfully in my chest. In causing me to feel, Everett was healing me. He was showing me how to live. But the healing, the living, hurt. They hurt with the knowledge that Everett was still dying.”
I’ll be honest with you. This blurb grabbed my interest the moment I read it, and I’ve been itching to read this book ever since. There was one thing holding me back though; the last two words. Was I up for a tear breaker? Was the beauty and meaning behind this story worth the hurt I was bound to subject myself to? It wasn’t until a bookblogger I often listen to when it comes to recommending books reassured me in her review that I finally started. And I can tell you now that yes, everything was worth it. Ten Below Zero is as moving and beautiful as it is heartbreaking. It will make you love. It will make you laugh. It will make you hurt. But above all it will make you feel. And we should never forget that that is a beautiful thing.
Parker spoke to me on a deeper level. I recognised parts of myself in her, even though we’re vastly different. Being a part of Parker and Everett’s story, Everett taught me as much as he taught Parker, and those are the kind of books I love the most. Books that make you think. Books that make you feel. Books that change you in the positive way, even if it’s just a small part of you. I do my best to never stop improving who I am, and I’ll admit that some days that’s easier than others, but I love reading books that give me renewed energy to keep working to becoming a better version of myself. That’s exactly what Ten Below Zero was to me and I’m grateful for the lessons Everett taught me.
Yet Ten Below Zero is not just that. I had fun reading it and Everett made me laugh. He was funny and sweet and I loved the view he had on life. This was also a page turner. I just needed to read more, read faster, because I needed to know how it finished. I needed to know what would happen.
I would definitely recommend Ten Below Zero. I liked the way it was written, I loved to see the characters grow and chance because of the other and it’s only a little over 200 pages long, so it’s a relatively quick read too. It’s meaningful and beautiful and I have to say that the acknowledgements hit me hard. It doesn’t happen often that I’m moved by acknowledgements like that.