I hate when I get to the end of a book and feel bad for having enjoyed it so much. AZ certainly doesn’t shy away from such tough topics as drug and sexual abuse, the sex trade and prostitution. These subjects aren’t dealt with in a gratuitous way with the gory details meant to shock the reader. They are so well written and sensitively handled with honesty in the writing makes your heart break for the people out there right now who are living the kind of lives that are described in the pages of this book. I know this is one of those storys that will play on my mind long after I’ve stopped reading.
Fifteen-year-old Jay and his mum Maggie live a simple life. They don’t have much but they do have each other and the last thing they need is a body unceremoniously dumped on their front lawn. Maggie’s nursing instincts kick in when she goes to see whether or not the body is alive. Half naked and badly beaten, Sasha is alive but only just. It quickly becomes evident that despite his young age, this boy has been through a hell of a lot and will need more help than Maggie can give and that a simple cleaning of the wounds doesn’t even scratch the surface. He refuses to talk, other than to refuse police involvement, however, when Maggie isn’t around, he slowly starts talking to Jay. Homeless and prostituting himself to fund his habit has taught Sacha to become guarded so the kindness of Jay and his mother feel very foreign to him. Regardless, he knows that developing feelings for Jay is pointless as his life on the street is beckoning and his need for drugs trumps everything else.
Jay, despite his naivety, understands that he can’t keep Sasha prisoner but he does know that the feelings he has for the other boy are more real than he has ever felt before. He can’t imagine life without Sasha around yet is aware that his friends would be less than understanding.
The story is told from the POV of both boys and because we particularly get Sasha’s perspective, the reader gets a front row seat to how the drugs have their claws into him and how low his self-esteem really is. Just when you think that it’s all going to be alright, bam! life throws another cruel blow that sends him into a complete tailspin.
I loved the relationship the boys shared and you can almost feel how strongly they are drawn to each other. I lost count of how many times my heart broke for them but their strength was inspiring. The epilogue, which lets us know where they’re at years down the line, couldn’t have been better. They do find a well deserved HEA but at the same time, no magic wand has been waved and no miracles have occurred to wipe away their past struggles. This isn’t a fluffy fairytale of angels and unicorns. It gets down and dirty and most importantly, it’s real. I feel like I want to get on my soap box but instead, I’ll suggest you read this book. You won’t regret it.