Summary: Taylor and her nephew Mason move in with Taylor’s grandmother after her sister is killed by her partner Bracken. In an abusive relationship herself, Taylor is anxious about moving away from her boyfriend Devon and how upset he will be over their now limited contact. Taylor makes friends with a girl named Lily at school, and that friendship gives her a glimpse into what it is like to be loved and appreciated. When Devon shows up unexpectedly with a friend to take Taylor out, Lily can sense the danger behind his intentions and insists on going with them. They wind up in an isolated cabin under the whim of Devon, who now has a gun. The next couple of days are a nightmare for the girls, until Devon goes after Lily taking things too far for Taylor to ignore.
Number of Pages: 186
Age Range: 16-18
Review: Lily and Taylor is not a book for the faint of heart. It contains graphic scenes of partner violence, an autopsy, and rape.
Reading this book was overwhelming and at times I had difficulty understanding Taylor’s motivations. But after a lot of thought, I realised the key to the whole story is the relationship between Lily and Taylor. Lily’s friendship provides Taylor with something she’s never had before, a positive sense of self and genuine love.
As Taylor speculates herself near the end of the novel, when Taylor’s sister Tannis was with Bracken and he beat her, the underlying message was that Tannis, Taylor and Mason didn’t matter, that they weren’t worthwhile. And Tannis’ choice to stay with Bracken despite that showed she, too, felt the same way about herself.
Likewise in Taylor’s relationship with Devon. He beats her, rapes her, and generally treats her like crap because he doesn’t respect her, but she stays because she doesn’t respect herself.
Except after Taylor is exposed to Lily, things begin to change for her, just a little, inside. And when Devon takes them both into the forest to the isolated cabin, the one thing that jolts Taylor out of her submission is when Devon goes after Lily, the person she knows truly cares about her.
The seed of love planted by Lily takes root in Taylor, and motivates her to protect Lily at all costs. In the end, Lily and Taylor survive their ordeal and are freed from Devon’s controlling and abusive ways.
There’s a lot of information about partner physical and sexual abuse in this book, and the act of reading it is traumatic. This is not a book for those who have had personal experience with this issue because it is likely to re-open wounds and isn’t particularly hopeful. I did appreciate that Taylor and Lily’s relationship changed things, but for me it didn’t make up for the horrors of the story.
“She was stealing herself to run into Devon and Taylor’s room, although she knew from living with her mother that it wasn’t always easy to tell the difference between the sounds of violence and sex. She also knew that people didn’t always want help when they were being hurt. You could make things worse.” – from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, pages 81-82
“‘I will,’ she said. She was embarrassed. She usually wasn’t this submissive in front of other people. It made her feel small in front of Lily.
But then, she thought, I am small. This is the way small people behave. Devon makes me make myself small. I let Devon make me make myself small…” – Taylor from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, page 93
“Taylor imagined that inside Lily was some kind of glowing core of strength made of a rare outer-space metal that radiated power into all her veins and muscles. She could almost see a halo around Lily’s pale face, her dark hair all tangled, her graceful jaw spotted with bruises.” – Taylor from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, page 96
“Why was it so hard to remember how brutal he was when he was being nice to her? And why was it was so hard to remember how it felt when he was nice when he was being mean?
Taylor felt stupid, like a little puppet getting jerked by one string and then the other.” – Taylor from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, page 99
“Lily felt like an asshole for slamming the pot down in front of Taylor. But Taylor made her so impatient. It was like she was willing to totally give up all her strength. And Devon sucked up Taylor’s power like she was his battery, and he recharged by draining her away.” – from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, page 136
“In ten thousand years no one would know she, Taylor, had ever existed.
It was a comforting thought. Whatever she had lived through – whatever was to come – it would all be long, long over, thoroughly erased, in ten thousand years. Even sooner.” – Taylor from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, page 149
“It was all about taking care of the person above you in the chain of command. The thought made Taylor’s shoulders slump.” – from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, page 153
“Taylor hadn’t really thought before how Devon kicking the shit out of Lily was a way of saying, This is how little I care about you. Then that was true for her, too. When Devon punched her in the face. When he pinched her, sapped her, pulled her hair. When she said no and he pushed his way into her anyway. You don’t matter.
When Bracken smashed Tannis in the face with the phone, when he blackened her eyes. When he killed her. He was saying Tannis didn’t mean a thing. And neither did Mason or Taylor.
So what did it mean when Tannis let Bracken treat them all that way? When Taylor let Devon abuse her?” – from Lily and Taylor by Elise Moser, pages 181-182