How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?
With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.
Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.
Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.
Although the subject matter of this latest book by Garrett Leigh wasn't always an easy read, I thoroughly enjoyed this YA story.
This isn't your typical "good boy falls for bad boy" tale, as I'd sort of assumed from the blurb. Here, a good boy falls for another good boy, who has just been dealt a very shite hand in life, which has made him angry and distrustful, and understandably so.
But no matter how hard Leo tries to be angry and distant with his new foster brother, Charlie, there's no way he can maintain his ire. Charlies is too nice, too caring, too genuine, and maybe just a bit too beautiful.
I absolutely adored watching Charlie always trying to be there for Leo and help him cope, as life continued to throw its punches. The scenes where Charlie would go into Leo's room to be close when the worst of the nightmares haunted Leo's dreams, God, I loved those scenes.
So Leo begins to rely on Charlie to be his support and ally when things got tough, until the 'annoying, nerdy kid' was someone he couldn't imagine living his life without.
The story was told mainly from Charlie's perspective, with Leo not being much of a talker; however, when Leo did speak, and wasn't being overly snarky, I really enjoyed what he had to say.
“I’m sorry.”While the book did have some pretty heavy emotional moments, such as the one above, I ended the story wishing there had been a few more heart-wrenching conversations between the boys. As serious as Leo's situation was, I suspect it wouldn't have been too difficult to elicit a few tears from the reader, so that felt like a bit of a lost opportunity to me.
“Hmm?” Leo opened his eyes. “What are you sorry for?”
“I’m sorry you’re so unhappy.” Charlie started to roll away, but Leo caught his face in his heated palm. “I’m not unhappy.”
“Yes, you are.”
“I’m not. Not here . . . not with you.”
After a few very large bumps in the road, the story does end with a solid HFN, with no intentions of either MC wanting anything different, which I found to be fine, as they were both only 15 years old, after all.
"Do you want it enough?”I'd rate this story at a solid 4.25 heartbreaking stars and recommend it for any fans of YA with a bit of a darker, more challenging side.
Leo smiled tiredly, his eyes barely open. “Course I do, mate. I want it all."
My copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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