Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
The Family We Make by Kaje Harper is an intense study in how we can lose or keep that which is dear to us. It is also very much about second chances and forgiveness—most importantly forgiving ourselves. Repeatedly this story offers choices to its characters and recognizes that with each one comes a decision that will change forever how families live and interact or cut away and destroy any chances of remaining close. And amidst all the turmoil that family can be, author Kaje Harper reminds us how very wonderful they are as well. This is a novel of hope despite its somewhat heavy subject matter. While this story never glosses over what the reality of living on the street can do to a teen or how HIV affects everyone around you, it also never fails to remind us how love can reach beyond the direst of circumstances and bring safety and love.
Sam has been hoping to hear from his little brother for months. In a last ditch effort to connect with him, Sam uses Facebook and some carefully crafted pictures and links to lure Rick back to him. Rick has been on the street for a while and has lived dangerously. Angry over his parent’s response to his announcing he is gay, Rick hit the road without a plan and ended up alone, homeless, and living on the edge. When he sees what Sam has posted, he decides to call and from that point this story become an interesting mix of how Sam manages to not only bring Rick home, but crack the very hard shell around his heart. Sam has some help, however, between his newly found family (Sam had been given up for adoption as a baby) and an older mechanic, Jeff, who will eventually hire Sam and house both Sam and Rick, as the boys tentatively begin a new life. When Rick discovers Travis, a young college student home from school due to lack of funds, Travis is added to the mix and suddenly a family is born.
But this family will not have an easy row to hoe by any means. Rick’s past will come back to haunt him and Travis will discover that one foolish moment trying to convince others he is not gay will take a serious toll on his health and his future with Rick. These young men will be faced with some major decisions and news that will threaten to tear them apart and it will be only by sheer will that they remain together despite all that life has thrown at them.
If you have read any of Kaje Harper’s work than you know it is her impeccable ability to put the heart and minds of her characters on the written page that is the real strength behind her stories. These people she creates are flawed and vulnerable yet so determined to reach beyond their own weaknesses to help each other be strong. They blunder through the story lines she creates for them and they act out their parts with such sincerity that only serves to only make them so palpably real. We embrace Kaje Harper’s men because we see a little bit of ourselves in them. We understand their needs and we applaud their small victories. Life is not neat but rather deliciously messy in a Kaje Harper novel. Yet along with that painful realism is such hope for a brighter tomorrow and such love that will carry them through to see another day.
The Family We Make takes the reader on a journey that is fraught with emotion and rich in desire. As the story evolves so do its characters until they are so familiar that you are convinced you have known them all your life. I highly recommend this novel to you! It is a triumph of the human spirit and a declaration that we can all come home to those who truly love us.