Author: Robin Roe
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (January 10, 2017)
Description: 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 kind hearted. 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.
First-time novelist Robin Roe relied on life experience when writing this exquisite, gripping story featuring two lionhearted characters.
My Thoughts: This was the most heart-breaking book I have read in a long, long time. I kept having to stop reading to decompress. Julian is a quiet orphan who is a freshman in high school. He lives with his uncle Russell who is systematically abusing him. Julian is a loner at school who has difficulty talking. He's also dyslexic even though he writes incredible stories.
Julian meets Adam who was his foster brother after his parents death and before his uncle was located. Adam befriends him again despite the fact that he is a popular senior. He starts including Julian in his activities with his friends. Adam has ADHD but is off meds and has learned coping strategies. He has an incredibly supportive mother and has a positive, upbeat attitude to life.
But Julian is keeping secrets about his home life. When he misses school after his uncle beats him, he says he was sick. Once Adam finds him after his uncle has hurt him but Julian convinces Adam not to tell anyone. Julian fears that he doesn't have any options. If his uncle abandons him, he will have nowhere to go.
After further abuse from his uncle, Adam finds him and he ends up hospitalized. He is taken out of his uncle's custody and placed with Adam and his mother. Thing are looking up for Julian but uncle Russell is still lurking.
The scenes of the abuse Julian suffers were horrifying. This story was told both from Julian's and Adam's point of view. Both had unique and distinctive voices. Together they told a story that was both horrifying and hopeful.
It's strange how many ways there are to miss someone. You miss the things they did and who they were, but you also miss who you were to them. The way everything you said and did was beautiful or entertaining or important. How much you mattered.I Received this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.