Rating: 3.5 stars
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Parley grew up in a strict religious household where his spare time was spent reading the Bible. Zack is the ordinary high school athlete who focuses his attention on sports rather than the books. Parley and Zack are forced together in high school when the academic achiever Parley is recruited to tutor the jock Zack. Despite their differences, they become best of friends.
As graduation nears, Zack realizes he is not going to meet his parents’ expectations of getting into college, and decides to run away after his last final. He asks Parley to come with him. As the two head off in Zack’s beat up used car, they barely make it out of the city lines when the car breaks down in front of an old abandoned house. For the next 48 hours, the two set up house. On the brink of declaring their attraction to one another, the two are caught and returned home to their parents. When Zack tries to contact Parley, he finds out that he’s been sent to a religious conversion camp.
Sixteen years later, Parley shows up on the doorstep of the restored old abandoned house he shared with Zack for those few short days…but he doesn’t come alone. As the two rediscover their love for one another, can they overcome the horrors of the past and the situations of the present to build a new relationship just as Zach rebuilt the house – brick by brick?
I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half of the book was one of the best books that I have read in a while. Outstanding! It had it all: young love, religious zealot parents (Parley’s), helicopter parents who’ve mapped out their child’s life for them (Zach’s), an escape, a capture, and an exile. I quickly was drawn into the story as the two young men’s friendship evolves into love only to be snatched away from them.
And then we have the second half of the book that begins 16 years later… I just couldn’t connect with the characters as adults like I did when they were younger. I didn’t feel the spark that was there before. Add in Veronica, Parley’s best friend, who seems to take a prominent role in the second half, acting like a go-between between these two men as Parley is too afraid to talk to Zach himself. At points, it seemed Parley acted more juvenile as an adult than he had as a teenager.
Overall, I was disappointed with the book primarily because the first half was so well written and had me so invested with the characters, but then we fast forward 16 years to them as adults and are expected to believe that their love for one another never changed, even though both of them changed significantly. I would have liked to have seen more Parley and Zach time in the second half and a whole lot less of Veronica, Parley, and Zach time.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.