After Cal escapes a deranged kidnapper who tortured him, he doesn’t even have the clothes on his back. Desperate and afraid, he breaks into a convenience store. But Jake, a clerk at the store, confronts what to him is little more than a petty thief. After a violent tussle, he knocks Cal out.
Jake encourages his Uncle Gary, the owner of the store, to report Cal to the police, but Gary can’t bring himself to report a kid who was just looking to steal food. When Cal wakes, Gary asks him if he’s okay. But Cal’s trauma has left him mute. Instead, he has to write his experiences down, relaying the horrifying events that led him to the store. The police track down the sick man who held Cal captive, and when he confronts them with a gun, he’s shot dead. However, Cal discovers that even with his captor gone, he is far from free of the nightmare he endured.
Gary and his wife welcome Cal into their home, determined to help him heal. Jake doesn’t trust Cal, and he isn’t afraid to say so. But buried beneath Jake’s disapproval might be the person who can help Cal recover from the terrifying experience that continues to haunt him.
Ok….let’s take a second and breathe…..
This book… ok, you know how when… okay, wait…. start over…. this book….. sigh….
First, I’ve got to mention that I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review…. Let me just tell you how I was not prepared for this book…Keep reading, I’ll tell ya why…
Cal was kicked out of his parents home when they learned of his “sinful ways”. That should be sad but I truly felt he was better off without them in his life. His mother was terrible and as hurtful as it would have been to be cast aside by someone who was supposed to love you; the abuse he suffered by her and his father was far worse. Heading to an LGBT center for gay youth, he’s taken and held captive by a man he didn’t know and had never seen. It was always dark in the place he was kept. I don’t feel bad telling you that part; cuz it’s all in the blurb. I’ll just skip past spoilers because the surprise and heartbreak and hopefulness of this story kept me turning the page.
During his daring escape; he meets Gary and his nephew Jake.
Gary is the epitome of all things amazing. He realizes he needs help and insists on helping him; much to Jake’s dismay. Jake was a jerk at first; I got his reasonings later; but, I just didn’t trust him. I didn’t like the way he treated Cal and even knowing what he’d gone through; I just didn’t feel like he treated him right. I hurt for Cal so much; I felt that he’d gone through so much, he really didn’t need Jake’s crap.
However, Gary and his sick wife Luce continued to help him and be there for him. It took Cal a long time to find his voice; he didn’t trust and he was scared more often than not; and why wouldn’t he be? He’d been through something so very traumatic. Still, Luce and Gary were amazing. He couldn’t have found better people. I forgot so many times that these were fictional people and it wasn’t something I was experiencing in real life. I love when a story does that; where it sucks you in so completely you feel like you know the people you’re reading about and find yourself hoping and living through their experiences. …. Is that crazy? Am I the only one who does that? ….
Anyway, through Cal’s discovery of a life where things aren’t always terrible and sometimes good things happen, he gets some curve balls thrown his way. As we all know, not everything in life is sunshine and roses. One thing I loved seeing though is his relationship progress with Jake.
Jake really redeemed himself. I could understand his hesitation and his distrust of Cal in the beginning and once they got to know each other, his sincerity and thoughtfulness with Cal was endearing. He was patient and understanding and he cared about him so much. I loved that.
I loved the friendships with Mallory and Blake; although I wasn’t so much a fan of Keith, I felt for him too at the end. Everyone makes mistakes and does petty things out of jealousy and I had to keep reminding myself that these were kids. Teenagers. I felt like Jake and Cal had been through so much in their lives, they didn’t live like normal teenagers; they’d already known so much loss and devastation; they worked hard and had so many responsibilities for their age.
There were so many surprises and twists that I never saw coming; ones that took my breath away, ones that made me weep at 3 in the morning while trying to be quiet so my husband didn’t wake up and think I was crazy; ones that broke my heart and then put me back together again.
Yep… all that happened in one, 238 page literary adventure!
I will admit this was the first book I’ve read by this author; but I can assure you it will not be the last. If you enjoy a tearjerking, hopeful yet heartbreaking read, do not pass this one up. I really, really enjoyed it…
4 pieces of eye candy