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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: March 7th, 2017

320 Pages

Synopsis: Oscar is misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he’s been disrespected and bullied by his family, and he seeks refuge in his art. Vance is a popular athlete and wishes his brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother’s death without Oscar getting all emotional. Vance just wants to throw himself into partying, to live.

But when their father’s alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two boys must come face-to-face with their demons–and each other–if they are going to survive an uncertain future.

Ultimatum is a heartbreaking, thought-provoking look at a family torn apart by alcoholism and drug addiction. As the story opens, Oscar and Vance having already lost their mother in a car accident, are keeping watch in a hospice, over their father as he lays dying from kidney failure. Vance, the popular, extroverted lacrosse player, and Oscar, the sensitive, artistic introvert, despise each other. Oscar thinks Vance and his father have never tried to understand him or make him feel part of the family. Vance, views his younger brother as someone who would rather hole up in his room and mope, rather than enjoy life. The chapters alternate between the brothers as well as the the past and present which allows the reader to see how things developed to this point. I have to admit I thoroughly despised Vance at first. He seems to definitely take after his father in terms of arrogance, selfishness, and misogyny. He also shares his father’s addiction problems. He shows complete contempt for just about everyone, but saves the worst of his attitude toward Oscar. I honestly wanted to smack him at times. Oscar broke my heart with his grief and isolation from his brother and father. An artist and classical music fan, it seems in the beginning that there is no way for the two brothers to bridge the chasm that their family circumstances has made between them. But this story and Oscar and Vance have many layers. The amount of growth in their development is amazing. In the end Ultimatum is a journey of two brothers who each deal with their grief in different ways. It’s full of sadness, anger, and helplessness, yet ends on a note of hope. It’s a story that will stay with you long after you’ve finished, and it’s one that I highly recommend for teens and adult fans of YA fiction. 

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