Buy Links: Harmony Ink | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 270 pages
When fifteen-year-old Romeo's mother leaves one day and doesn't return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.
Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.
This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).
I don't quite know where to start with my review, or if my words can even do justice to this book. From the moment I opened it, I was captivated by Romeo/Remee and Julian's plight for survival. I. Couldn't. Put. It. Down. I started earlier in the day and was up until 2:30 in the morning finishing, because everyone else had abandoned these two young boys and I couldn't bring myself to do so as well by closing the book before I was absolutely sure Remee and Julian were safe, warm and together. I had to make sure these things happened before I could let myself sleep. The author does an amazing job at really letting us see what happens when you're young, homeless and on the streets. When you don't know where you'll sleep, when you'll get your next meal, or when you'll ever be warm and safe again.
Told completely from Romeo's POV, you feel what he feels. Cold, helpless, hungry, pained and hopeless, yet he's not alone, he has Julian by his side to protect and care for him. In Romeo Julian finds a purpose in life to keep him away from the drugs he's turned to in the past to escape. Julian turns to prostitution to earn a bit of money so they can eat, but it's slowly killing him on the inside. Eventually, it all becomes too much and when social services finally gets involved and threatens to separate Romeo and Julian for good by putting Romeo into foster care, Romeo has to dig deep and find the strength to come up with a solution that will keep them together at all costs.
No matter what the title says, this is definitely a love story, as well as a story of friendship and survival. It's well-written, dark, raw and gritty. It features a plethora of secondary characters that touched my heart. I wanted to reach out and help every one of these young people who have been abandoned and forgotten by the people who are supposed to protect and love them and forced to live on the streets. Their stories are all heartbreaking. I wanted to invite each one of them into my home for a warm meal and a place to sleep. This story is eye opening and brutally honest. It's not easy to read, but I think it's worth the heartache to get to know Romeo and Julian. My only real problem with the story is the epilogue. These men go through so much I feel the ending was too rushed. I think after all the suffering they deserved more. I really loved this book and I'd love to see more from Romeo and Julian, as well as some of the other secondary characters. Highly recommended!
*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*
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Award Winning Author. Prolific Reader (though less prolific than she'd like). Lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories.
Suki Fleet writes lyrical stories about memorable characters, and believes everyone should have a chance at a happy ending.
Her first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards.