I struggled with how I was going to review this book. On Goodreads, I gave it 3-stars, which doesn’t seem fair in my mind, but then again, 4 seems too generous. I might switch it back and forth throughout the rest of the week out of guilt.
This book was not bad AT ALL. This was a great story that needed to be told. It is a story of child abuse and friendship. It truly shows the effects that a life of abuse has on an individual both emotionally and developmentally. It was upsetting, gripping, and beautiful. If I were basing this solely on plot, it would be an easy 4+ star book.
Adam and Julian have been brought together many times throughout their lives, but this time, it is different. Julian is different. Adam notices almost immediately, but chalks it up to his always being a little timid and different after his parents died. He introduces Julian to a life of love, which is something Julian desperately needs.
My main concern with this book: the adult characters. We get this a lot in YA books where the adults are either absentee or oblivious. That was the case with this book, but it was worse. The adults/parents/teachers in this book were absentee, oblivious, assholes, and dip-shits. I can honestly say that there is one good parent and maybe one other decent adult throughout the book. This is not what teens need to see in a book about abuse. Teens need to know that they can rely on their adults to help them. They can trust their adults to protect them. This book did the opposite. It made it seem that a bunch on high school seniors are more competent in handling severe child abuse than adults. Yes, the adults take over and things get better, but it took an atrocity to get us to that point.
I think when you read this that you will see the issue I have with the adults, but if not, just pay very close attention to the teachers, the lack of additional parents in any scene, and even the nurses. It is ridiculous that it portrays most adults as jaded jerks.
The last issue I have is at the end of the book, so SPOILER ALERT!! Fighting over a gun, it going off, and miraculously, the bad guy is the one that gets shot? Try again.
Again, I am torn between 3 and 4 stars, so I obviously do not think that the adult situation is too terrible. I have also heard a couple of teens say this book was beautiful and wonderful and amazing, so there is that. I just struggle quantifying my enjoyment/disappointment in this book.
For readers, I think this book is great. It shows the importance of friendship through tougher times. I would recommend this book, but I would be a little hesitant just because of the mistrust it might cause with adults. Hopefully, the teen already has enough positive adult role models that they will not be effected by this image.
For libraries, I think this book is pretty hot. I would recommend purchasing for larger collections.