First of all: Just WOW. I am truly stunned. What a powerful, engaging outstanding and unique story. It was so mesmerizing and captivating for me to read. Sempre is something special. I’ve read nothing like it and I’ve never said this before about any book but it stole my heart and it has been such an enjoyable pleasure to read. One which I’d love to read again. This book will take you on a journey and I have been in one hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride! It still etches in my mind since finishing the story. I had tears falling down my face three times.
This story is about human trafficking/slavery. J.M Darhower wrote this story on a cause she strongly believes in and turned this into one beautiful heart-wrenching story. This is not your average young adult story. It is a deep angst story that drags you in. It crosses the boundaries of love, sacrifice, fear, choice, freedom, betrayal, life and death and having hope. I fell in love with the characters, especially Haven and Carmine. They are from different worlds but despite that, they have more in common than they think. As the story progresses they find out what they mean to each other, as their world collides.
“People like me wish for the kind of life where they don’t have to fear paying for someone else’s mistakes with their life.” – Haven.
I absolutely adored Haven; I think she has become my favourite protagonist. She was such a brave and strong character, definitely a survivor. She was brought up as a slave on an isolated dessert in a ranch with her mother before she was taken away. She suffers from abuse, hard work and paying for other people’s mistakes. I can’t imagine all the awful punishments she’s been through. Deprived of a normal childhood she was supposed to have, the freedom she was entitled to, never got to experience the outside world and her life controlled in someone’s hands. What really got me was despite of all the terrible things and burdens of cruelty brought upon her, she remains this understanding character, accepting her circumstances and refrains herself from being vulnerable. She respects others and talks very formally, because she is afraid she might get hit. She may seem naïve and innocent, but she is a really intelligent and smart person. She is a special character, who grew on me throughout the book from the beginning to the end.
“I’m finding myself again because of you. I never thought it would happen. My mom used to talk about fate all the time, and I think you’re it... you’re my fate. You were brought to me for a reason, for us to save each other. Because you weren’t the only one needing saved, Haven. I was drowning and you rescued me.” – Carmine. This quote makes me feel so in AWE :)
Carmine is the son of Dr. Vincent DeMarco, the good-looking High School football star who charms girls with his Italian. He’s cocky, spoiled, foul-mouth and self-centered. He gets away with anything and everything. He lives a wealthy lifestyle and takes things for granted. However he is a vulnerable, messed up and broken boy who suffered a traumatizing event in his life when he was eight, which he’ll never forget and this continues to haunt him in his nightmares. This is the reason why he is behaves this way. However once he meets Haven for the first time over the spilled orange juice, he starts seeing things in a completely different light through Haven’s eyes. I loved how their relationship developed. I really enjoyed reading Haven and Carmine opening up to each other, sharing feelings and thoughts and really connecting with each other. Carmine falls in love with her and he finally finds his purpose to life. I loved his nickname for Haven, he calls her Hummingbird :)
The book is written in third person, so we get to read about not only Haven and Carmine’s points of views, but also Dr. Vincent DeMacro – he is Carmine’s father and he is involved in the Italian Mafia, aka la famiglia where there is an entanglement of secrets and lies.
One of my favourite scenes within the book was when Carmine took Haven outside by going through his window at night to look at the fireflies and bringing a jar. Even though it was a small scene, I thought it was endearing to read because it felt so innocent, just two teenagers hanging out.
There’s a scenario of forbidden love that ties into a world where having power and money rules. Haven, a slave and Carmine, a Mafia Prince – he is often called Principe in Italian. They find out what it means to live and most importantly what it means to be free, but we learn that even having freedom comes at a cost and you’re not going have a happy ending you want.
After finishing this book, I felt like the story provided me with such a real eye-opener into human trafficking because I’m not always aware that it’s happening right now. It gives awareness to readers and it puts your life into perspective. One of the things I’ve learnt was sacrifice. How far Carmine was willing to go though and the risks he took to save Haven because he loved her – she was his purpose. Even though he may have made the wrong choice in the process, he was forced have to make a choice - one that he has been desperately avoiding to save Haven because love is worth it in the end.
For me, Sempré just ticked all the right boxes and it had everything I wanted a book to have and so much more. It had an original plot, which made it a unique storyline. I got into reading the story that I couldn’t put the book down and it had that gripping suspense and action to entice me to read more! So much things happened in this story, had a hard time keeping up! Unlike other books I’ve read, this book had character development – the one thing I always talk about. I loved the character development between Haven and Carmine because I felt like I connected with the characters and understood their feelings. Most importantly, the characters felt real and the storyline felt realistic. I believed in Haven and Carmine’s love for one another and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them, especially how they grew and changed for each other. I’ve missed having that feeling, you know? When you’re into a story and the characters that you don’t want it to end.
Without a doubt, one hundred percent 5 stars! Overall it is an extremely well written story and it is well researched too. I highly recommend. I heard there is going to be a sequel, which is amazing news because it means the story hasn’t ended yet! So many questions were running through my mind when the ended because it felt like it hasn’t ended yet. Carmine is heading down the wrong path and I want to see where this will lead, whether he will find a way out or not.
I knew this book was going to be a 5 star rating before I even started reading it because I read the Twilight Fanfiction called Emanicpation Proclamation before the story was published and I enjoyed it very much, still currently reading it as I never finished it (on chapter 36). J.M Darhower deserves so much recognition for her novel.
I am highly influenced by music, so my soundtrack for Sempre is:
Garbage – Crush
Creed – My Sacrifice
The Fray – Heartbeat
The Killers – Runaways
Joe Banfi – Olive Green
One Night Only – All I Want
Jeff Buckley – The last goodbye
Taylor Swift – Forever and Always
The White Stripes – fell in love with a girl
Noel Gallagher’s Highflying Birds – Everybody’s on the run
I think Garbage’s song Crush reminds me of Carmine, because of the lyrics “I would die for you,” and also Creed’s My Sacrifice.
The differences between the book and the fanfiction is that the fanfiction is more...explicit, there’s more romance in detail and it’s written in POVs, Edward swears a lot, goddamn this and f*cking that, etc. The book is toned down and the story is shortened.