Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Alex lives in South Central L.A. and he’s managed to stay out of trouble for the most part. He’s avoided the gangs, and hasn’t had to go the way of his older sister or his mother, both of whom have made some questionable life choices. But when Alex is desperate for new shoes, since the ones he has just don’t fit anymore, he steals weed from his stepfather to sell, even though he knows he’ll pay the price. When his stepfather finds out what he’s done, he leaves enough of a mark that Alex can’t get it past his teacher the next day.
When the authorities are sent to investigate Alex’s living situation, his mother and stepfather are out of town, so Alex is sent to live in a home with other foster children. It’s here he meets, among other boys, Sebastian, who the others in the house have labeled as retarded because he spends all day in his bed and won’t speak or show any emotional reaction whatsoever. Alex finds himself confessing his deepest, darkest secrets to his roommate, Seb. He finally feels safe enough to reveal that he’s gay, and starts to feel very close to Sebastian, even though Seb does nothing more than sit and listen.
Then tragedy strikes the foster home and the boys are separated. Alex realizes that his feelings for Sebastian are strong, whether as a really good friend or something more. He’s willing to risk everything to get back to him and make sure he’s safe and happy. Things have never been easy for Alex, but they’re about to get much harder, as the two start out on a journey with no sure destination. The only thing they know is that they need to stay together.
One of the things I love about this book by Sara Alva is that this is, in fact, a book written for a YA audience. Oftentimes, books will be labeled as such, but either the themes or the sex scenes or just the way it is written seems much too mature for a YA audience. While this book is still a great read for an adult, it felt very much about a young man making his way through a difficult life, feeling insecurity and angst and not always making the right decisions. Alex was a flawed, beautiful character, who had a big heart but wasn’t always so smart when it came to doing the right things. Sometimes you wanted to smack him upside the head, but I imagine you’d want to do that with most teenagers at some point or another.
It’s quite a heartbreaking tale, but one that needs to be told. Some kids just don’t stand much of a chance in this world — they’re dealt a difficult hand from the get go. Sometimes they’ll shut down, like Sebastian, or choose a life on the wrong path, like Alex’s sister, but there’s also goodness and light and love in the world and sometimes things turn out okay. There’s no sugarcoating here. Alva tells a very realistic, gritty story, and it doesn’t always go the way you think it should go. Everything is not wrapped up in the end, though there’s a definite HFN, but it tears at your heartstrings and keeps you reading well into the night.
Sebastian and Alex deserve happiness, and they keep you rooting for them throughout the entire story. There is chemistry and age-appropriate sex scenes and I really did enjoy this couple quite a lot. Overall, I thought this book was excellent, and will continue to keep Sara Alva at the top of my must-read authors. I highly recommend it.