Alex’s life as a teenager in South Central L.A. is far from perfect, but it’s his life, and he knows how to live it. He knows what role to play and what things to keep to himself. He’s got it all under control, until one lousy pair of shoes kicks him out of his world and lands him in a foster care group home. Surrounded by strangers and trapped in a life where he could never belong, Alex turns to the only person lower on the social ladder than he is: a “special” mute boy. In Sebastian, Alex finds a safe place to store his secrets—those that sent him to foster care, and the deeper one that sets him apart from the other teenagers he knows. But Sebastian has secrets of his own, and when tragedy rips the two boys apart, Alex will stop at nothing to find the answers—even if it means dragging them both through a past full of wounds best left buried. It might just be worth it, for the slim chance at love.
I had a moment of feeling uneasy with the gritty talk, when inside Alex’s head. He has internalized so much racial denigratory crap that it almost hurt my eyes. It most certainly hurt my heart.
As did the whole book. This story is heartrending. Sad. Full of devastation. Kids and drug dealers. Young people who probably never stand a chance.
In the middle of all this misery is a young man of 15, standing tall, doing his absolute best. He mucks it up, of course, because he is only fifteen years old. But he tries. Oh, lord, but he tries. He almost gets on my nerves with how hard he tries.
There is desperation, then group homes, foster homes, fires, guns and then we meet this one, lonely, silent boy, Seb.
There is love, and forgiveness, and beauty in all this harsh and gritty reality.
This book should be mandatory reading in high schools, as it covers bullying, being different, social services, group homes, institutions and more. It covers life, as is, in neighborhoods I have seldom visited. It spoke straight to my heart, breaking it in the process.
This book changes things inside your head. It is, at times, uncomfortable. But most good stories are, if they have important messages.
This one does. Read it.
I bought copy of this book with my own money, after reading a brilliant review from a teen.
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