I am vociferously passionate about good books. And I hate adverbs.
**4.5 stars for this intelligent and gently handled story on very, very difficult themes.**
As you know, I don't write recaps of the story (read the blurb), nor do I fill my reviews with spoilers. This is my experience of the story. My connection to it.
AND WHAT A STORY IT IS.
Christy. You had me, hook, line, and sinker, already when you were sitting up on the bleachers, watching Michael from afar. His #1 Fan.
How somebody can take this subject matter and gently turn it into something so brilliant and elegant, is beyond me. Child abuse, sexual child abuse, in a story that has me cry like a baby and laugh like few books before, without ever even potentially falling into the horrifying trap of exploiting the abuse for the reader's "pleasure"?
Even the (quite tame, young and loving) sex scenes are never graphic nor exploiting. All power is, thanks to Michael, left in Christy's hands, for him to rediscover sexuality, love and discover Mike.
There is the one scene that just killed me dead, when Christy says he is glad that at least Michael is a virgin, and Michael responds:
"You are too. You have never been touched by someone who loved you."
There is so much in this book that just totally rocked. Or had me sitting in the corner, rocking.
The only parts that grated on my sense of correct storytelling were about the slacker security, and while I understand that it was to make the story more interesting, seriously, it just managed to annoy me, and took half a star off my rating.
One of the most charming characters was to be found on the sidelines: young Lisa. She was a force to be reckoned with, and by god I loved that. More and more intelligent women-side-characters are appearing also in m/m books these days, and I applaud it.
There were people from different continents and several colors in this story, and they all had their own voice. That is quite unusual, so extra kudos for that. (I have no idea if the Greek written in the book was correct, but the Italian could have benefited from a helping hand from a native speaker).
What is great with a story like this is that this was an MC I could really root for. Every step Christy took in the right direction was a screaming victory and I adored him so much for his strength. Even when he froze and walked in the wrong direction. To eventually bolt like a rabbit. God, I screamed for him, rooting so hard.
There is so much understanding about abuse and power play in this story that I am left shattered at the end. But mended, somehow, by the fine example of NEVER GIVING UP ON YOUR FRIENDS.
You stand up for your friends. Every. Single. Time.
And the cover of the book? That is seriously such a perfect image of Christy. I kept closing the book, and looking at the cover for minutes on end.
I received a free ARC from the publisher, Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.