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Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.
This is an absolutely amazing book. Amazing.
JP Barnaby manages to take an absolutely horrific event and funnel it through the mind of a teenager. Can you imagine? Being a teenager is hard enough as it is. Then add being a gay teenager, just coming into your own sexuality. Then add in a brutal, horrible attack that leaves you physically and emotionally scarred and your best friend, dead. It is incredible that Aaron had the will to live, and JP even explains HOW he manages to avoid suicide.
It is completely believable, and touching, and so, so painful, but sweet and hopeful at the same time. I couldn’t read/listen to it all at once. I had to take breaks, read lighter books in between. But when I got to the end, I said “I MUST read Spencer!” and started it immediately.
One of the things I absolutely found so powerful, was JPs ability to show us (without telling us) the areas where Aaron’s family – despite ALL their best intentions – were NOT helping him. She also showed us where the fact that he was a teenager (and thus prone to illogical thinking and hormone driven decision making) impacted his event even more so than it would have on an adult. Aaron lived through this event at such a pivotal time in his life and JP does an amazing job of showing us just how pivotal it was.
Then you have Spencer. (Sigh) I LOVE Spencer. I wish I KNEW Spencer, I would hug and love him up. Such a fantastic soul and such a huge heart. He takes on Aaron and sees through to the boy he is/could be and simply loves him. He has his own demons, and this makes him empathetic and vulnerable and wonderful It is a testament to the power of love in the act of healing. So very touching. I can’t say enough about how wonderful Spencer is.
JP also paints a detailed, if flawed, picture of Dr Thomas, Aaron’s parents/siblings, and all the other people in Aaron’s life. She is accurate down to her coding and tech-speak, but not didactic or pedantic.
It was a hard book to read/listen to, but so worth it.
I had not read any JP Barnaby books before this, but you can bet I am a fan for life now.
5 out of 5 hearts
Tyler Stevens can read any book to me any day. He did such an amazing job with the language, the tonal qualities of Spencer’s speech. (Spencer was born deaf, but can and does speak throughout the story.) Tyler subtly changes the voice for all the characters in a way that is helpful to the story and not distracting in its “over acting”.
His reading pace is good, his voice quality clear, his emphasis on the dialog perfection.
I would specifically look for him as a narrator, he is that good. I really hope he reads Spencer when the audible version comes out.
I liked the audible version even better than the book (shocked gasp!). It was that good. Tyler just made me feel the characters in a way that when I went back to read the book, his intonations were what I heard.
I highly recommend this audio version, the book, the series, the author, the narrator.
Ok, I sound a little fan-girl, but really. Go now and buy them.