Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Dusty Porter has been taking care of his brother and sister for years now. His mother has disappeared on one of her extended breaks, and Dusty’s gotten used to being the mom and the dad to his two younger siblings, even though he’s only 15 years old and should have someone looking after him for a change. His father’s no help. He’s around town somewhere, but he’s irresponsible and no help to Dusty, except when Dusty’s absolutely desperate when his mother hasn’t returned before the money’s run out.
When Dusty’s younger sister gets appendicitis and a parent is needed for medical decisions, Dusty’s ruse is up. The authorities get involved and the three could very well be separated and sent to foster homes. Luckily, while searching for placement homes, the case worker discovers that the kids have an Uncle Jack who didn’t know about his sister’s three children and wants nothing more than for them to become a family.
Family. Dusty should be excited that he gets to leave his run down life behind and move in with people who actually care about him and his siblings. It’s more of an adjustment than anticipated, though, as Dusty’s role as guardian is usurped by his Aunt Beth and Dusty has some time to focus on himself, and is not quite sure he likes what he’s discovering. His new friend, Emmit — the hockey player that has Dusty feeling things he’s suspected but never knew for certain — is simultaneously the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to him.
As Dusty adjusts to a new life, he has to deal not only with the issues a normal 15-year old would be going through, but also his feelings that he’s been replaced, the new feelings he has for a boy, and his desire to love Jack and Beth but also hate them as well. And what about his mom? She’s been missing for weeks, but Dusty knows how she works and it won’t be long before she shows up as well.
This young adult book is simply lovely. Yes, there’s a certain amount of angst, as a boy struggles with his sexuality and his tough home life, but mostly it’s just a story about a 15-year-old kid who’s trying to find his way. The writing is terrific, capturing the voice of a teen yet still maintaining the perfect tone. Dusty himself is an endearing MC, and his struggles, even though extraordinary, are dealt with exactly as you would imagine a teenage boy would.
This is a YA book I’d recommend to all ages. Emmit and Dusty begin to explore their relationship, but it’s very age-appropriate and innocent. Dear, sweet Emmit. Dusty’s scenes with the older high school hockey star will melt your heart. If you’re expecting a sweeping, epic romance or hot sex scenes, though, you’ll be disappointed. These boys are young and confused and are really more concerned with the hockey game than anything else. It would, however, be a huge comfort to a young person struggling with their sexuality or with coming out to read this book.
Zeb Pike, as found within the title, is a man who tried to climb Pike’s Peak but failed, yet the mountain was still named after him. This charming book perfectly captures that idea. Like all young people, Dusty will try and fail and sometimes even succeed, but it’s all about the journey and, while his journey is a bit bumpier than some, he’ll be alright in the end.