Rating: 4 stars
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Determination is the last in the Waiting for Forever series, a series which J.P. Barnaby reworked from her Little Boy Lost series for a young adult audience, publishing it under the pen name of one of her MCs, Jamie Mayfield. If you’ve read the Little Boy Lost series, then there’s no reason to pick this set of books up, but if you have a young adult reader or you’re interested in a milder, slightly more condensed version of the series, this is a good one to start.
In Determination, Brian and Jamie are finally together, after having been torn apart at 17 and spending long, torturous, and traumatic months trying to find each other. Their lives have taken them in directions they never thought they’d go, but they’ve done things they needed to do to survive, and for the moment it seems that all of that has been worth it. First, though, they need to get Jamie healthy. Jamie was addicted to drugs and kept locked away and controlled by an abusive older man, and Brian and his friends have helped him escape from that situation, but now need to build up the shell of a man Jamie has become. Jamie needs to get clean, but he also needs to stay away from the man he is terrified of and keep his friends safe as well.
The path does not run smoothly for these two young men, so it’s obvious that the happily ever after hasn’t come at the very beginning of this tale. Brian and Jamie have many obstacles to overcome before they can be together forever, but they have a support system that will do anything for them and the immense amount of love they have for each other will have to get them through this difficult time.
Overall, I really enjoyed this series and was not disappointed in this final book. In the characters of Brian and Jamie, J.P. Barnaby created lost yet determined young men who were damaged, but still not afraid to fight for the important things in life. I think there are a lot of young adults who could find a bit of themselves within these two characters, and, even more importantly than that, I hope there are parents and adults to boys such as Jamie and Brian who would examine their behavior after reading this book.
One of the best parts of the series is the supporting cast. Since a good portion of the series takes place amongst this group of lost boys, young men who have found a family with one another and make their living doing porn, this created a fascinating and dynamic group of characters. I especially loved Alex and Mike, who are the best friends anyone could hope for, but also manage to find love with one another. That relationship was secondary to Brian and Jamie, but just as touching and sweet. Also, Jamie’s relationship with his father, while a roller-coaster of emotions, ends on such a hopeful, lovely note, I imagine it would bring hope to young adults who may have a tumultuous relationship with their own parents.
My main problem with this book, and the reason I give it the lowest of the ratings out of the three, is because it felt too long, yet rushed at the same time. I know this doesn’t seem to make sense, but let me attempt to explain. This book is quite lengthy at over 350 pages. I understand that it’s a compilation of two books, but I think it would’ve benefitted from some scaling back. The pacing just seemed off. There were times when things seemed to drag on forever, then major events would occur in just a few pages. Especially in the last 50 pages or so, there was so much happening, trying to tie up loose ends, it felt forced and contrived to me. There’s a relationship that comes out of the blue, Jamie’s mother appears for no apparent reason, and Jamie’s still dealing from the aftermath of his relationship with his abuser. It was simply too much.
I also have a difficult time with the relationship between Jamie and Brian in this book. The two have a forever kind of love, we get that. But in this book, they have some difficulties that seem arbitrary, and then seem a little too easily resolved. I had a hard time believing that Brian, who had faced every obstacle imaginable to be with Jamie, would give up on him so easily. We all knew they’d end up together, but that long period in between felt endless.
I would definitely recommend this book to adults and young adults alike. There are many things to like about this book, and people of all ages can learn a lot from it. If you haven’t read the Little Boy Lost series, this is the perfect way to get caught up.