Author: Robin Roe
Genre: YA, Contemporary
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.
Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…
Rating: 🌑 🌑 🌑 🌑 🌑
What an incredible and painful story. This book was one agonising punch to the gut after another – and one of my top contemporary reads of 2017. Who ever you are and/or whatever your taste is in books – I implore you to read this gem.
Told through alternating first-person narration, the story of 14-year-old Julian and his former foster brother, 18-year-old Adam, is equally heartwarming and devastatingly heartbreaking.
Julian: After his beloved parents died five years ago, life takes on a terrible turn for Julian. Taken in by a family member, his loss truly encompasses him and misses his parents every day. And life only gets worse now that he’s a high school freshman. He has a number of learning disabilities, including dyslexia, his teachers, instead of caring and helping, just berate and fail him, and send him to the principal. His fellow students ridicule him and he constantly feels as if he is living on eggshells at home.
Adam: Adam was a ray of sunshine. He is generous, kind towards everyone and just a lovable guy throughout. A high school senior and Julian’s former foster brother, he valiantly tries to keep his own ADHD in check (not always successfully) and is also in love with his long-time friend. His brotherly love and protectiveness over Julian is so warming and touching that’ll make even the toughest person tear up. He does everything he can to help and integrate Julian into his wide circle of friends.
Roe’s storytelling ability is so powerful that she pulls you into to Julian and Adam’s stories, makes you care and feel in the process. I definitely could have done without the super graphic cruelty at times (really, at one point chills went down my spine that I just shut the book for a while to regain my composure). Emotion courses through every sentence of this novel, whether it is love, compassion, or bone-chilling cruelty, as it heavily features child abuse and psychological torture.
The strong portrayal of sibling love, genuine friendships and the power it has to get one out of even the darkest of holes was such a refreshing thing to read about because we don’t often get to see these kinds of charachters in a YA Contemporary. All in all, credit to Roe for this treasure of a book.