I’m an emotional book-zombie mess again!! I stayed up all night, reading this un-put-downable book. I ended up caring too much for a couple of characters that have both elated me, and disturbed me (well, especially one in particular). They made me sad, made me happy, made me sigh with the sweetness, made me worry, made me say to myself over and over again… “Oh no. This is not good. This can’t be good in the long run. This is trouble.” And yet, I loved it.
So I declare today as “I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-my-book-therefore-I’ll-probably-be-unproductive-all-day” day.
Thank you Karen for this recommendation!!! Despite my reluctance to read it due to some “very uncomfortable subject matter”, there is no taking away from the fact that the story was riveting, thought provoking, and emotion-inducing (both on the good and the bad scale). Say what you must about the actual taboo circumstances of the novel, it still held my rapt attention, robbed me of sleep, and even in my zombie state, the only way I think I can get over it, is to release it in a review. So I guess I’m not completely unproductive today, huh?
Alright, so I’ll just get into what it’s about then. There is no way I can say it any other way then this (and it looks like I’m saying a lot here, but really, mostly it’s just the beginning):
Megan (23) just finished college and is working as a copy editor at a newspaper with aspirations of becoming a reporter. She keeps hitting dead ends at work (she must pay her dues before getting the big jobs). But she has initiative and drive and decides to tackle a story on her own, hoping to finish and present it to her boss, and get her in the door.
… she dreamed of proving Rossi wrong with the amazing article she would write. A few interviews, photos and a unique angle for her story would make her career. There was no reason to waste time as a copy editor. She was too talented for that.
So she takes to the streets and writes an exposé about the street kids of L.A.
The faces of the street boys haunted her. She stared at the glowing computer screen. It was easy to write about what she’d seen, but how could she depict what it felt like down there on the boulevard?
She slowly gains their trust, interviews them, even befriends a few. She begins caring for them, especially one in particular, a seventeen (almost eighteen) year old named Sean (he has a “street” nickname, but I don’t want to use it here because it makes me sad. Really. And anyway, you come to realize quickly that it’s not at all “who” he is).
The young man was so self-possessed he made her feel like a child. He strolled toward the restaurant with long, easy strides. Megan had to walk quickly to keep up.
While the other kids seem to have a lost quality to them, broken and addicted and with no realistic aspirations for their future, Sean is working with a goal in mind. He has a tentative, yet careful handle on his current life, and a pragmatic outlook for his future.
Sean is street smart, has been on the streets since he was 16, but had been caring for his drug-addict mother (who has since died presumably under those circumstances), since he was a child. No family. No father that he knows of. Just his dead mother. He’s practically been a street kid for years, considering his mothers state. Living in similar circumstances. He ran away because going into the system is something all of the street kids avoid like the plague (supposedly too many horror stories there, too). He seems to be the one that the other kids look up to. The older one. The smarter one.
He even unwittingly finds himself protecting Megan every time she shows up in their dangerous “territory”. She doesn’t really have a clue about street life, and her trust in the kids (to not hurt her, steal from her, or do what they must to get what they want from her) is stressing him out.
He shook his head and blew out a breath as if unable to bear her stupidity.
“You’ve gotta quit trusting these kids. It doesn’t matter how innocent they look. If they think you’ve got money or can get money, they’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”
“You’re being overdramatic.”
“Do you ever read your own paper?”
Despite the apparent level-head on his shoulders, he still does what he thinks he has to do, and in his mind, for now, it’s “working the streets” (yes, you get where I’m going with this… I hope).
“So one night I did it.”
Megan swallowed. “How did you feel about it?”
“I didn’t feel anything. He was right. It wasn’t such a big deal and I had enough money to eat for days.” His voice was perfectly steady and emotionless.
No address = no job. Living on the streets = no education. But Sean has aspirations, and has been “turning tricks” and stashing his money to eventually get an apartment, get his GED, get off the streets for good. He’s only got a few more months before he turns eighteen, and in the meantime, continues to remain under the “system’s” radar until he’s officially an adult.
But Sean goes missing for a few days, and Megan is worried. When he turns up again, she finds him battered and defeated. His hideout was discovered, he was beaten to a bloody pulp, and all of his money was stolen. He’s back at square one, when he was so close to reaching his goal. Megan is distraught and offers him her place to stay until he can get back on his feet.
While her friends and family think she’s absolutely crazy to trust a street kid in her personal space, (and that she could get into legal trouble for harboring a minor) she’s not worried about it. She soon realizes the only issue she has with their living arrangements, is simply that she’s now having to share it, and change her habits to accommodate. At first, it’s sort of a mess and uncomfortable (she can no longer do the private things she used to do in her apartment) and he has his own bad habits that drive her crazy. But they soon find an easy and comfortable rhythm. He proves to be a clean freak, uses his time to study for his GED and look for work, cooks for her and soon, they become friends. Truly enjoying each others company.
How could she have thought for a second she’d done the wrong thing when the alternative for him was sleeping on the floor of an unheated building?
And here’s the uncomfortable part. They begin bonding, connecting, and the friendly/caretaker relationship between the two escalates into something MUCH more. In detail.
Now here’s my mini-rant. It was pretty much the only thing that took away from my reading experience (but when I think about it, now, might have been the very thing that put me so “on edge” as to feel every single moment.)
Whyyyyyy oh whyyyy couldn’t the authors have just made him eighteen from the get-go, or shortly after his moving in with her, before “things” heightened to the level they did? We could have still gotten most of the angst and drama from his living the kind of life he did, having trust issues, overcoming his past, and taking on his future. The discomposure could have still been prominent, as she helped him into a new stage in his life, dealt with his mood shifts and insecurities, managed social prejudices, without the age factor having to come into play. Granted, Megan’s only 23 herself, but this storyline took it’s toll on me (and on her).
I’m going to end here, because there is still much more to the story. Family pressures, jealousy issues, stuff that has to do with them completely as a couple, and stuff that each have to work out for themselves. Personal issues that may have come into the forefront because of their forbidden circumstances, but that have been underlying for years, and need to be handled. Personal growth and all that
Anyway, that’s it. I have nothing more to say on the issue. Oh who am I kidding? I could talk about this book all day, but I need to move on.
So should you read it? While I certainly could have enjoyed the book more had the “hero” been eighteen from the start, that doesn’t necessarily take away from how emotional and interesting the story is. So if you’re good with “it”, then… by all means. This story is amazingly… amazing.You feel it. Big time.
I cried. There. I said it.