Rating: 4.5 stars
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When Danny was 16, his father caught him making out with his boyfriend and kicked him out of the house with only a couple of garbage bags full of clothes to his name. He tried to live in a home for homeless youth like himself, but when his privacy and his independence felt like they were slipping from him, he only felt comfortable living on the streets, on his own terms. They’re not good terms, however, since he’s forced to sell his body for money, and a bush in the park has now become his home. But things change the day he rescues a bullied boy from what could’ve been a fatal attack, and Danny becomes an reluctant hero to Harry, the young 16-year-old victim.
What develops from that day forward is a friendship between Harry and the 18-year-old Danny. Harry brings Danny food and clothes, and even offers him a place to stay when it’s too rainy to sleep in the bush. Just when Danny realizes he’s starting to rely on the boy for more than just a meal and things escalate to something more than friendship, Harry is gone.
The next two years of homelessness are rough. Finally, Danny is taken in by an older woman and her daughter and given shelter and a way to recuperate from his latest violent attack and consequent health problems. He decides to reinvent himself as David, trying to leave behind Danny, even though psychologically it’s much more difficult than he ever expected. As he feels himself become attached to some important people in his life, he has to fight the neglected, abused Danny inside of him and become the David that he is capable of being.
This is just a really good story. If I could’ve avoided the interruptions, I would’ve read the whole book in one sitting. I liked how Sue Brown structured her story. She begins with present day David and his current lover and then almost all of the rest of the story is set in a flashback, starting with Danny at 16 years old. I appreciated this structure because, when things seemed depressing and hopeless, there was always the promise that things would eventually get better for David and that these experiences would make him into the man that he would eventually become. So even though the content sometimes became overwhelmingly unjust and tragic, it alleviated my reader anxiety enough to truly enjoy it.
The relationship between Danny and Harry was heart-warming. While there are some pretty intense, steamy sex scenes throughout this book, their developing relationship is so achingly sweet and tender and full of youthful promise. This book made me feel. Granted, for as many highs as I felt, there were just as many lows, but Brown really developed some complex, sympathetic characters that evoked deep emotion from the reader. I was invested in Danny/David’s story from the first page to the last.
The only big complaint that I had with this book was something I can’t really explain without giving away a big part of the story. I will only say that there is a twist in the book that was too unbelievable for me to accept, and because of that, it was difficult to fully embrace the plot as a whole. To put it in vague terms, it would be impossible for one person to be so deeply involved with another person and then, a couple of years later, not be able to recognize them. It challenged the story’s credibility and was the one thing that kept me from giving it a higher review rating.
Putting that concern aside, I can still highly recommend this book. It’s not a light, breezy read, but it’s definitely one that will keep you glued to the pages. You’d have to be a cold, emotionless robot to not feel a connection with these characters and the story they have to tell. So give it a try when you’re ready for a book with both heart and substance.