Fourteen-year-old Evan Savage is desperate, lonely, and very alone. His father leaves for days at a time for work, he’s bullied and teased at school, and he feels like no one in the world cares about him. The last man he was seeing is no longer in the picture, and Evan is desperate for a connection of any kind. When he makes a new friend, things seem to be looking up. But when the guy turns out not to be what Evan thinks, his despondent feelings grow. Though the recurring dream image he has urges him to stay, and so does Jimmy, the one man who actually cares for and about Evan, Evan just can’t find enough to hold on to. And the pills and a bottle of gin seem like the only solution to end his loneliness.
Only the Lonely is the prequel to Kelling’s Twin Ties series and I’m going to mention a couple things right off the bat. If you’ve been reading along in the series, nothing in this short story will be a surprise, as Evan has at least mentioned all of these facts before. However, to see it firsthand adds a whole new layer to the experience. But you should be warned there is underage sexual contact (Evan is 14 and with a much older man) and there is a suicide attempt on page.
Kelling is a masterful author, and her words have a way of drawing me in and really making me feel the character. Now I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Evan, and have since reading the first book. There’s something strong underneath his brokenness that really calls to me. He breaks my heart, again and again, yet he always manages to come out on top. Here in this story, that’s questionable, and the story ends with a cliff hanger—so if you haven’t read the other books yet, you’re going to want to have them on hand.
As I said, having read the other books, none of the events here in the short are a surprise. But to be there in the moment, to feel them along with Evan, is truly heart wrenching. His loneliness, his aching need for connection, is palpable. I knew how desperate he was for anything to hold on to, and how he couldn’t find it. My heart ached for him, my stomach sank, and my breathing sped. I was right there with him throughout the tale, and I wanted him to know that someday, it would get better.
This story is an excellent addition to the series, because it adds a whole other layer to Evan’s personality. And it adds even more to his growth and what he’s overcome to get to where he is now. You could start here with this prequel if you haven’t yet read the Twin Ties series. But if you have, then you’re definitely going to want to pick it up and add it to your collection. Seeing this time in Evan’s life makes his struggles even more real and emotional and I didn’t think that was possible. This series is one that I would definitely recommend to those of you who like dark, angst, and taboo relationships, and this story adds to it in immeasurable ways.