After reading, and thoroughly enjoying Julie's The Joy and Torture of Joshua James, I was quick to jump on the opportunity to take part in the tour for her latest full length novel, Swell. Once again I was drawn in by her incredibly raw storytelling, and unflinching honesty in the most dire of situations. Swell is the story of Rebecca who longs to be with the most popular boy in school, Christian Rusch. She's taken by surprise when at her high school's year end toga dance Christian chooses to dance with her all night. As their relationship grows she goes on a rather quick downward spiral into alcohol dependency.One thing I wished I as a reader would have gotten out of Swell was a little more time to get to know Rebecca as she was prior to Christian and drinking. We are introduced to her as a very intelligent girl who thrives in the arts and has a strong support system in her closest friend Jenna and her parents. But all too quickly she is with Christian and pimping for booze outside the local liquor store. That's a minor complaint of mine because I do feel that we get to know Beck very well once she starts to take the decline. I did end up connecting with her and I really wanted to reach into the novel and shake her through much of it. So I guess what I am saying is that I wish I got a better grasp on how this addiction and dependency was a big stray from who she was before it all happened. Once she starts drinking she became someone that I was angry with often and also felt a strong sense of pity for. She got herself into some terrible situations and she kept pining for Christian, who was a complete ass, if I may say so myself. I didn't like him at all, and the relationship between the two of them made me uncomfortable in most scenes. But I think that was the point of it, there was just so much wrong with them but neither could see it because they were always wearing their wine goggles.The part of this story that I loved the most was that Beck took the shape of girls that I actually knew in high school. I can remember so vividly girls who were trying too hard to fit in, going to ridiculous lengths to do so and changing themselves (most often for the worse.) I was pretty shocked to see how far she would go, in the end, to get a fix and that just furthered the sadness I had in my heart for her. Once Jesse comes into the picture and she starts seeing how much she has changed, and how much she misses her art the story got really touching. I loved Jesse! He was such a sweet guy and he wasn't the perfect jock, or the hottest guy in school but he wanted Beck for who she was and that's always the best. I also really enjoyed how the truth of his life was kept as a bit of a mystery that unfolded slowly and the reveal was so touching that I was reaching for the box of tissues on my nightstand.This story is by no means happy, but it's real. It's filled with the crap that went on in my high school and I am sure many others as well. To me, that's the best kind of story and I really think Duck was the perfect author to write a raw tale like this. Swell makes you uncomfortable, it makes you angry and it makes you hopeful that a person who has lost their way can once again find who they were and come out smiling on the other side. __You can read all of my reviews at Alluring Reads.