Before you knew him as Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Cole Reynolds—and he had it all. Until one night when he makes a fatal, wrong decision…and loses everything.

When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends—the ones who have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.

Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional, and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. Nor can he shake the all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip on what once was important—college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.

In Her Wake is a book that has left me feeling deeply conflicted and though I’ve finally decided on a 4 star rating, I’m not so sure it’s an entirely accurate representation of my feelings for the book. But before I jump into the review, I do want to clarify a few things:
– This is a novella that focuses on the Trent before the events of Ten Tiny Breaths so even though this book chronologically comes first, I highly recommend reading TTB before this one.– If you are looking for a Trent and Kacey fix, I’m sorry to say you won’t be finding it here. You do not read about their relationship development, though you do see several scenes with Kacey in them. The novella is told entirely from his POV.

Out of all the books I’ve read from K.A. Tucker, Ten Tiny Breaths is my favorite. The devastating emotional impact, the imperfectly perfect characters, the heartfelt second chance romance are only some of the many reasons why I adore that book. I was secretly hoping there’d be a novella about Trent before he’s with Kacey but you know what they say right? Be careful what you wish for. Now that I’ve read about his past, frustration and sympathy have been warring in my head. I love that the author portrays his character with such harsh honesty, never flinching or trivializing his experiences and thoughts. But at the same time, this positive is also the downfall of the book for me.

I really struggled to read about the old Trent. Grief and unresolved guilt can lead a person to extremes, causing them to act irrationally and that was precisely the case with Cole. No matter what the ordeal is, I will NEVER condone self-destructive behavior. I feel like Cole took the blame for his friends’ deaths and Kacey’s accident and didn’t even bother to try to pick up the pieces. It’s harsh but from the way I saw it, that’s what happened. He brushes aside his loyal and attentive girlfriend, his supporting parents, his old friends, basically everyone and the one person he focuses ALL his attention on is Kacey. When she doesn’t even know who he is.

He follows her, just to make sure she’s safe.
He tracks her online, just to learn more about her.
He breaks into her email, just to find out her whereabouts. 

If this was in Ten Tiny Breaths, I’d have no problem with the amount of attention he lavishes on her. But it’s not. I expected reading about his healing process, not his stalkerish behavior.

So why the 4 stars? As much as I disliked his actions in the book, I feel like I’m not in the position to judge if his behavior is right or not. I’ve never been in his shoes and didn’t experience the kind of grief he has so in a way, I’ll never fully relate and understand why he does what he does. The only thing I can judge is how well the author takes all that jagged pain and portrays his character in the story. As depressed, frustrated and melancholy I got, I have to say the author did a damn fine job.