Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Unlocked by Rachael O'Bryan

Unlocked by Rachael O'Bryan
Published By:
Release Date: January 13, 2011
Format: Paperback - 146 pages / Nook - 277 KB
ISBN: 0557839092
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Women's Fiction

About The Author:

Rachael O'Bryan grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She attended college at Temple University. After college she pursued her law degree, starting off at Tulane University and then graduating at American University. Rachael is a lawyer, but pursues writing in her free time. Besides writing Unlocked, she keeps a blog at Also, on June 1st she launched her own business - an online women's magazine. The magazine is operated under Rachel Magazine LLC. The self-titled magazine is geared towards professional women in their 20s and 30s that want it all. You can subscribe at When Rachael isn't working, writing, or running her own business she enjoys reading, traveling, watching The New York Mets, and following the University of Louisville basketball team. She currently resides in New York City.

BUY THE BOOK: Unlocked

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event.

Virtual Book Tour Event: On Sunday, June 17, 2012, in association with Chick Lit Plus, author Rachael O'Bryan participated in a virtual book tour event with an Author Guest Post on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.

Book Description:

This is a novel in stories about the impact people can have on a person's life. It discusses the main character Rebecca's relationships with some of the athletes she met while working as a tutor in college. It's a book that deals with learning from one's mistakes and trying to move on. It touches on love, friendship, heartache, acceptance, and self-confidence, among other issues. The stories in this book are based on some of my own experiences and I hope that people will find them relatable.

Book Excerpt:

I was just eighteen, leaving all I knew behind in Louisville, Kentucky and making my way up north to Philadelphia. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know anyone there, but for the most part I felt ready. Many people doubted my ability to stick it out on my own because I was shy. However, I knew I could succeed and the doubts only made me want to prove people wrong. I was confident in my ability to overcome any challenges because I thought I was “smart.” Not just book smart, but smart in general. I made good choices, or so I thought. I didn’t touch alcohol. Never smoked. And of course “just say no” to drugs was embedded in my mind. I refused to attend frat parties regardless of the fact that they were just across Broad Street from my dorm because somehow I felt better than that. However as prepared as I was for getting A’s and avoiding illegal substances, I was never prepared for how one small ten dollar an hour job would profoundly change the direction of my life. None of those how to books on college, none of the advice from anyone I knew before heading out had bothered to mention “beware of the football players.”

My Book Review:

Unlocked is a story based loosely on the experiences she had with men she met while in college, fictionalized in the character of Rebecca. Told in the first person narrative, in the present time with flashbacks to her college time period, there are short stories about the types of relationships she had with nine men while in college. This story was written as a means to provide closure so that she could move forward in her life.

Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Rebecca's college choice was Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Struggling with low self-esteem, she thought that by going away to college, it would be a place where she could finally fit it. While studying for a degree in Business Administration, she got a job tutoring the student athletes, primarily the college football players. Never a very social person, with a limited amount of close friends, she struggled with befriending and trusting people. As the student tutor, she befriended some of the popular football players, which led her to fall into the college athlete trap, developing crushes on them throughout her college years. The relationships she had with the nine men reflected upon in the story each had a varying type of impact on the choices she made during that time in her life, and ultimately the lessons she learned from each relationship.

Rebecca analyzes the experiences she had while in college: the choices made, the trap of worshiping college football players, crushes, heartaches, low self-esteem and confidence, unrequited love, high expectations for friendships, self-acceptance, validation and academic success.

The story reads like a self-analysis of the choices and mistakes that she made with the male relationships she had in college. There is no doubt that Rebecca had low self-esteem and self-confidence when it came to making friends and finding a suitable boyfriend. She blamed it on her shyness and inability to know how to attract a man who would become interested in her. She also had a tendency to want to be well liked, and would go out of her way to please her friends, doing whatever would make them happy, always placing them first over her own wants and needs. Yet she also had high expectations that she placed on her friendships, which often would lead to her experiencing disappointments when they didn't meet her expectation level. The crust of the dilemma was her struggle between academic success versus a social life. With all of this dilemma going on, she was an excellent honors student with an exceptional gpa, and when she graduated from Temple University, she went on to attend law school starting at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, and graduating with a JD at American University in Washington D.C.

I felt that the story tended to be on the dark side, analyzing the negative of her college experience, primarily focused on finding a boyfriend, instead of accentuating the positive, her academic successes. Life is full of lessons from choices and mistakes made, and I think for Rebecca, this story was written as a means of accepting what she experienced, and it provided a healing catharsis for her. As I read the story, I could relate to some of her experiences, as I believe anyone would, and I was glad that at the end of the story she felt like she had grown from her college experience and was now in a happier place. I just wish she had been a little less critical, the high standard / expectation level she placed on the friendships, in my opinion set herself up for the disappointments that she experienced. If she had loosened up and learned to accept herself and the flaws in other people, perhaps she would have had an easier time in the social arena.

Unlocked is an interesting and realistic look into relationships, gaining self-acceptance and lessons learned through life experiences.



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host Rachael's virtual book tour.