I miss the stars and the inky nights. I miss the smell of seaweed on damp sand and the sound of the waves on Inch Beach. I miss the thunderstorms and the crystal dews clinging to long grass. I want to hear the tunes played on a bodhrán and the low notes from the clarsach.
Eighteen months after Sasha left me.
In my dingy bedsit room, I get ready to go to my appointment. It’s going to be someone new. I consider my skinny jeans and tight shirt in the mirror. I often wonder what the johns see when they meet me the first time. I’m not what you call a stunner but good looking enough. I have dark hair, pale skin and thin lips; a few freckles make me appear a little younger than my age. It costs to keep my hair under some control but I have to do it for the sake of my job. My Old Spice deo. Shit, where is it? Found. I give myself a once over before heading out to face the world.
Forthcoming, featuring Liam from The Boy Who Fell to Earth
I know I say this a lot but it’s difficult to know what to say about this book. I genuinely loved it to bits. The story is enthralling and very real. Although grim in places, it always holds out hope which is realized in the end (I don’t think I’m giving anything away in saying that).
Given Jay was brought up on an estate in the east end of London, I had a lot of difficulty accepting how naïve he is. However, he’s very engaging and I was totally rooting for him. He’s a genuinely nice person doing the best he can with what he has. Sasha, on the other hand, can hardly be called naïve. He’s a deliciously complex character who at times seems irredeemable; but despite everything thrown at him he manages to find an inner strength that brings him through, even though he’s being dragged by the foot over fire to get there.
It’s difficult to read about the things Sasha goes through, but I think it’s a realistic picture of a young drug addict living on the streets- what they will go through to get drugs and how hard it is to get away from them. The author paints a fantastic picture of London’s seedy underworld and although it’s a picture that’s uncomfortable to look at, it certainly makes the reader think a little more carefully about things we might usually paint over.
The book is also full of a diverse cast of brightly drawn supporting characters. I’m particularly fond of Jay’s mother, Eric and Big Al, although there are plenty more.
I do still have issues with editing. The spelling and punctuation is fairly good (although I wouldn’t take my word on the punctuation because I’m shaky myself), and although the writing is immature in places it’s strong enough to carry the story. However, it’s peppered with frustrating little errors like “changed tact” instead of “changed tack”, and places where the tense bounces back and forth between past and present.
There’s no doubt that an author, editor, etc. who reads this book will be frustrated in places, but I hope they will get over that to truly appreciate the gem in the rough. Readers who don’t care about technical perfection, and young people generally, I would think, won’t have a problem and will be enthralled by the book. Even those who might struggle with the way it’s written have to be caught up by the story and drawn in by these amazing characters.
You might think, given what I’ve said, that 4 stars is a little too generous. Trust me, it’s not. The story more than carries its imperfections and as frustrating as it can be it has a force that keeps you on the edge of the seat and a grittiness that opens your eyes and makes you think. This is definitely a book worth reading and one I will undoubtedly read again.
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.
Thanks to Alpha Book Club that has given The Boy Who Fell to Earth a 5* review.
“I know this is one of those stories that will play on my mind long after I’ve stopped reading…I suggest you read this book. You won’t regret it.”
I’m giving away free to review copies in the MM Romance group DBML program until 18 May:
Copies of The Boy Who Fell to Earth will be given away via the MM Romance group Don’t Buy My Love program. Opens 4.27. I’d love to hear your views.
Liam Murphy has kicked his drug habit and now pays for the high living costs in London as an escort. His life is finally in balance. His only problem is that he obsesses about the minimum number of times he has to bend over to make ends meet. As long as he keeps his emotions under control, it’ll be fine. That’s what he keeps telling himself until he meets the young widower Ali whose emerald eyes remind him of Ireland.
“I… I want us to have sex like we’re making love.” Making love? Jaysis.
I scratched my head, “Okay. You mean more kisses and shit?”
Ali laughed. “And shit.” His face lit up and he looked about ten years younger. “Like cuddles.”
Featuring Liam from The Boy Who Fell to Earth http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/713795
Cover image @Sean McGrath, 2009
Design @A. Zukowski