Robbie’s dad has always been hard on Robbie and his brothers, but when their mom dies on Robbie’s sixteenth birthday, he becomes downright abusive. Robbie doesn't understand why his dad is so mean to him or why his brothers resent him for their mom's accident, but he desperately tries to hide the bruises. On top of that, after his dad's horse training jobs run out, he moves them to Colorado to their uncle's ranch in the mountains.
At Uncle Caleb's cabin, Robbie meets Sam, a boy whose family also lives on the property. Finally he has a real friend who shares his love of horses, but Sam is black and openly gay. Both traits incur Robbie’s father’s rage. When his dad attacks Robbie in front of Uncle Caleb for standing up for Sam and himself, all of their secrets are thrown out into the open, and Robbie's life is changed forever.
This was shaping up to be a really good book about a young man, who's starting to figure out his sexuality, dealing with the loss of his mother, dealing with an abusive and cruel father, and learning to stand up for himself.
The blurb pretty much covers the plot, so no spoilers here.
When I was expecting another 50% of book, it was already over. With a rushed ending that gave no real answers, little resolution to the issues it had raised, I was feeling rather disappointed.
The writing is good - I enjoyed that what I read - but I wish the author had taken the time to finish it, instead of giving the reader this wishy-washy, rushed finish. I wish the editor had insisted on the author revisiting that ending, so the reader is not left hanging with all these questions.
I liked the backdrop of the rodeos, of working with horses, and how the author moved them to the uncle's ranch in the Colorado mountains, where Robbie gets to meet Sam, a boy not unlike him, but who is also being raised much, much differently.
Robbie's father is not only homophobic, but also racist, and he is not impressed with Robbie making friends with what he regards as the farm boy, who is beneath his son. He's not above stating the same, and treating the young man with disdain.
Robbie is struggling, realizing that the way his father is treating him, and his younger brother, is not normal, and coming to grips with the fact that it's only gotten worse since his mother left and subsequently died that same night. It's as if Robbie's father is blaming him for his mother's leaving, but we're not given any kind of indication for any kind of reason, until the very end, and a very dramatic turn of events that finally sheds a little light, but raises additional questions.
As I said, the writing is good, and I enjoyed what there was of it. The story needs polishing, especially the ending.
** The publisher provided a free copy of this book for review. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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