If you Google “17 Black and 29 Red” you will probably find a few links to this book. You will also find many, many links to fan sites for the boy-band One Direction. If you happen to be unfortunate enough to click on a couple of them, as I did today, you will see that 17 Black and 29 Red is in reference to the tattoo of one Harry Styles, who, through referencing Richard Rider’s book, is professing his love for one of the other man-children in the band. This is most likely not true (I’m not entirely sure he’s old enough to know how to read), but it has produced a bit of a kerfuffle in regards to this book. Please do not read this book if you are a preteen boy or girl. Please do not read it if you haven’t read the first one. And please do not illegally download it from a fan site, because that’s stealing and also dumb.
Since I alluded to the magnificently frustrating ending of the previous book, Stockholm Syndrome, you can understand how writing about the second book could be difficult to do without revealing spoilers. So this is going to be short and sweet. Let’s just say that the end of the first book necessitates a bit of a separation between Lindsay and Pip for a good majority of the second book. This is the book that explores the necessary but painful reflection part of this already dysfunctional relationship.
Pip returns home to his family, where he makes a tentative reconciliation effort with his parents and becomes a big brother to an adorable female baby version of Pip. Lindsay decides that, in order to deal with the ramifications of the big, horrible thing that happened in Book 1, he should drastically change his living situation and companions. They both spend almost the entire book exploring what life would be like without the other person. The conclusion that they come to after years, yes years, apart is my favorite part about this book. Their lives aren’t bad. There is no miserable wallowing or contemplation of suicide. But, at some point, they realize that, while they can live without one another, they don’t want to. Then the reunion happens. A few tears are shed (mostly by me), and all is right in the world.
A book like this has to happen. Lindsay and Pip so violently and impulsively begin this relationship it is not surprising when it has a few bumps (or boulders) along the way. The good news is, it is much shorter than the previous book, so while it may not contain the intense passion of the first book, it gives the characters some time to step away, calm down, and decide what they want from life. For Lindsay, it’s Pip. For Pip, it’s becoming more than just the tempestuous uncertain teenager that fell into Lindsay’s life. He finds that he’s worth something and he has a purpose, and it makes you feel so much more secure that he isn’t going to be involved with Lindsay out of force or desperation, but because he truly loves him.
Did you see how I turned this “Why did you do this to me, Richard Ryder??” book into a great life-affirming experience? Let’s make lemons into lemonade, folks! Read 17 Black and 29 Red and then return here in a couple of days so we can discuss the third book, in which we abandon our threat to cause bodily harm to the perfectly lovely author and revel in the Lindsay and Pip love once again.