*****(5 stars) Really pulls you in from the very beginning.
Project Lexi by Lisa Survillas really pulls you in from the prologue in the very beginning. You want to know what happened; why did it affect not just Lexi, but her whole family; and why does Lexi believe the way her family is feeling is her fault. Ms. Survillas did a good job in getting readers invested in the character of Lexi with all the questions in the prologue – you must read more to find out exactly what happened.
The first chapter starts to answer many of the questions we have, and we learn more about Lexi as the story unfolds. Lexi keeps to herself and is shy, closed-off, and doesn’t share with anyone (with the exception of her roommate who has been her lifeline since her freshman year in college). Lexi has to take a communications class for her degree and missed the first few days of class during which the professor announced there would be a group project which would require students paired together to interview one another with the goal being getting to know another person on a deep and personal level. The professor shared that the project was also designed to complement the psychology and journalism programs, therefore making students dig deeper into emotions that are not usually shown to others.
The communications project throws Lexi together with Derek, another student who is almost as much of a loner as Lexi – neither one shows much emotion to others and does not like to share about their past, so this project is challenging for both of them. Both Lexi and Derek want to have good grades, and that is the initial reason they meet to start on the project. Throughout the course of the project, we learn that both Lexi and Derek have experienced many types of loss (some different and some the same), and are at different stages of the healing process.
Ms. Survillas does an amazing job with the underlying theme that anyone can experience different types of traumatic events, but that healing is possible, and sometimes it just takes being with the right person at the right time to help you heal. Some of the traumatic events experienced by Lexi and Derek deal with sensitive issues, but we are given just the right amount of detail – not so much to be bothered by events, but enough to feel angry, upset, or sad about what the characters had to go through.
The relationship between Lexi and Derek developed beautifully. Derek is a real sweetheart and a true gentleman. He has a compassionate nature and is cautious with Lexi. Lexi surprises herself by making enough of a connection with Derek to feel comfortable with him and start opening up about herself and sharing about her past. In turn, Derek shares his emotions about his past with her, and together they learn that they both can heal. Derek helps Lexi to see that she is special and has an inner strength she never believed she had, and Lexi helps Derek to see that there are things that were not his fault.
I really enjoyed how Ms. Survillas handled the traumatic events and developed the relationship between Lexi and Derek slowly. I was pulled into Derek and Lexi’s story from the very beginning, and could feel the pain and suffering they had gone through; however, I could also feel the joy when Lexi began to triumph over what had happened to her and start taking back her life.
I look forward to reading the next book in The Lexi Series and learning how Lexi continues on the path to healing and if her relationship with Derek builds and becomes stronger.