Is the possibility of fulfilling your heart’s desire worth the risk of breaking it?
Fourteen-year-old Linus Lightman is understandably reluctant to trust his newest foster family, the Nelsons, after he’s bounced through the system since being being taken from his neglectful mother. He’s certain they will reject him when they find out he’s gay, and getting to know them will only lead to hurt later. Trying to cope, he builds a friendship with Kevin Mapleton, and it quickly grows into romance, despite Linus’s fears. Then a video of Linus and Kevin having sex is posted online, and Linus knows from past experience exactly what’s going to happen. This sort of scandal will cost him his new home and Kevin’s love, snatching away his fragile hopes of belonging.
Linus has had a very rough life. We meet him at 5 when he is being abused by his mother’s lover. From foster care home to foster care home he is passed around, abused, neglected and most importantly, not loved or made to feel safe.
He finally finds a home where he can make friends, be part of a family and settle down and plant roots when he meets a boy online. Though the two have a strong connection, there is more to their relationship than meets the eye and drama ensues. (See blurb above and sex tape reference.)
In the end Linus, who has remarkably kept up a warm, caring personality all this time, is forced into therapy – which he desperately needs – and begins the process of healing.
Ugh. I hate writing reviews when I don’t love the book but really, really wanted to.
There is so much about this book that I really liked. I liked how straight forward it was. Like the boy telling the story, it’s an accounting of his life, without emotion, without added drama.
I thought the way the sex in this book was handled was very appropriate for the audience.
I also liked the way the dark, ugly abuse was handled. No un-necessary re-creations just a flat telling of events. Nothing was sensationalized.
I liked the characters – on the surface there were countless of very interesting people in this story: the biological mother, the foster children, the social worker, the boyfriend and of course Linus himself.
What I didn’t like: I really wanted the author to take me through the flat, emotionless story-telling phase and then “show” me the colorful, real world, experience of being Linus. It felt like the entire story was a prelude to the real story, wherein some of that emotion from the abuse gets let out or explored or hopefully, reversed.
I just didn’t get that “reward” for all the painful stuff. It was one bad thing after another and only a brief respite at the end with the therapy, adoption and the “maybe we can start over” with the boyfriend.
It was way too heavy a story without something at the end to lighten things.
I also felt very disconnected from everyone and everything. I imagine that this is good – Linus must have felt this way at the beginning as well – but then I wanted to be brought back to the land of emotion and given a real connection again. Sort of like the color in Oz versus the black and white of Kansas. This story was all in black and white. There were many shades of gray and it was very interesting, but lacked the color or zing it could have.
3 of 5 hearts