Review: The Debt by Molly O’Keefe

Reviewed by Joanna

This book is a short, free (at time of writing) prequel to the new series Molly O’Keefe is launching rapid-fire over the next few weeks. As I started it, I knew two things. One: it was going to be a big tease, and two: it was going to hurt to read it.

See, the story is set around a group of teenagers living in a foster care home in San Francisco. St. Jude’s Home for Court Placed Juveniles. Tommy and Beth are in love, sharing stolen kisses in the art room at school. They can’t date, as the husband and wife who run the home wouldn’t allow it.

They rule the place with an iron fist.

In fact these people, known as The Pastor and The Wife, aren’t just rule-enforcers, they are truly evil. The kids can’t tell anyone the awful things that happen there, as the last time someone tried it didn’t go well for them. So the day Beth and Tommy are caught kissing by a teacher who has no choice but to tell, they know the consequences are going to be severe.

Can you feel the fear? Smell the evil? Gah. I hated it. The situation these kids live in is dire. Sent there by court order, their only other option is jail. Tommy thinks that’s where he’s headed anyway. Kids like him wind up in jail all the time. But Beth is in a more unusual situation, and one that we don’t find out the conclusion to in this short. He desperately wants to protect her, even if he knows so little about love and what it means. And that is the beacon of this tale: the shining, embryonic love between these two young adults. It’s beautiful.

“Beth had freckles scattered like stars across her creamy skin, caught even on her lips and eyelids. She hated them, I knew. Her red hair and her freckles. But I wanted to put my lips against every one of them and whisper thank you, thank you for being here.”

The other kids, Carissa, Rosa, who’s pregnant, and Simon, have methods of communicating under the nose of The Pastor and The Wife. The behaviors they display as a result of being locked up and far far worse, are heart breaking. Tommy is as thin as a rake where they deny him food despite his rapidly growing big frame clearly needing it. And what goes on in The Office truly chilled my blood.

“The sound came again and I could identify it now because I wasn’t sleeping. Not a scream. It was the sound of a scream cut off before it could get started. It was a sound a thousand times worse than a scream, and all the hair on my body stood up.

Wonderful writing, as always, and I was left clamoring for more. And do you know? As I finished reading this at 1AM, the first full-length novel, book two, Lost Without You, appeared on my Kindle. Thanks promoter! I’m racing on to find out what happened with these kids after the dreadful night of reckoning is over.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Debt
by Molly O’Keefe
Release Date: May 31, 2017


  1. Great review! I picked up the free book but wasn’t sure if I’d read the series. You convinced me.

    • Thanks! I’m still hanging on impatiently for book 3, but loved book 2 loads. It’s the poignant moments O’Keefe writes that hook me. I have no idea how she does is, but she cuts me to the bone, and I LOVE it.

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