From the first pages, the reader can sense that something is a little off kilter from the description of Ellie and the love her Daddy had for her. "He'd wanted a daughter. He didn't care how many boys she birthed to make it happen..." It's a bit strange, isn't it? The book, for me, had a pull despite how my stomach flipped when I realized what was really going on between Daddy and baby Ellie. The pull was Ellie herself. I liked her, I felt almost protective over her. At times, I smiled at her logic, and shook my head in frustration over her naïveté. She won me over from the beginning, which made me want to keep reading but also made the story that much harder to read.
As the story and characters are written, the reader believes that Ellie has a twin. Sharon Sala introduces Wyatt early in the book, and describes him as the antithesis to Ellie's fragility. Reflecting back now, the description of Wyatt as "her shadow," maybe should've given me a heads up of what was to come.
In effort to not spoil the book for whomever may want to read The Boarding House, I will say this: Ellie was the victim of sexual abuse by her pervert father, that is known from the opening pages of the book. It's part of the hook. But what the reader does not realize is how poor Ellie chose to cope with it. It's saddening, but remarkable as well. And the combination of the two makes this book one that will make you think about Ellie when you're not reading the book, as though she's a friend you know and you're concerned for her well-being. It will make you sit for a few moments when you finish the book, just thinking about the story that just enfolded in that space between your eyes and your mind. You may feel a little despondent thinking about how the beauty Ellie had such a hard life, but that despondency is laced with some pride and satisfaction. Just read it, I think you'll only then know what I mean.