High school senior Renzy Callen hasn’t uttered a word in years. He likes being invisible to all around him; it keeps life safe and predictable. In his attic bedroom, he experiences a world far from the drama of his family. He doodles, listens to music, and contemplates the troubled souls he observes when attending self-help meetings designed for people with problems he doesn’t have. Renzy lives his life like a spectator, always on the outside of life’s games, looking in at others.
Everything changes when Seven and Morning Moreau-Maddox relocate from their glitzy lives in Paris to boring, picturesque Redcliff Hills, Missouri. Tall, platinum blond, and as put-together as a pair of European high-fashion models, the sophisticated siblings befriend Renzy, drawing him in and then pushing him away. What starts as nothing more than a means to an end for Seven, however, quickly becomes something more. Could icy-hearted Seven be thawing for the silent, quirky charm of Renzy Callen?
Determined to find the cause of Renzy’s selective mutism, the three teens set off on a road trip, during which they discover that flawless physical facades can conceal the most scarred souls, and that sometimes silence is better than golden.
This was the 9th Mia Kerick book that I've read in the last 3 years and I have to say that it was one of her more memorable stories.
At 19 years old, high school senior Renzy Callen hadn't spoken a single word for over a decade, since the day "the thing" happened to him. Only problem was, Renzy had no memory of that traumatic event, so he quietly haunted his family's home, basically becoming the invisible kid who lived in the attic.
Enter 18 y.o. Seven Moreau-Maddox, who was anything but invisible. He may have been cultured and well-traveled, but he was also brash, abrupt, and a bit of a self-admitted asshole. And Renzy was immediately fascinated with the young man.
Then we have Morning, Seven's 17 y.o. sister, who was raped while the siblings were living in Paris, relatively unsupervised, as their neglectful parents constantly traveled the globe.
Seven had been trying to both protect Morning and help her heal from her attack, with limited success, until Morning decided to befriend quiet, yet witty, Renzy. Then as Seven saw Renzy's positive effects on Morning's mental health and wellbeing, he also began to warm up to the boy who couldn't (or wouldn't?) speak.
This book was part mystery, part recovery and healing, part road trip, and part love story, so there was a *lot* going on as the book progressed.
Firstly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the thing about the siblings' names, Seven and Morning. If you're anything like me, those "names that aren't names" will pull you out of the story, to the point of making you absolutely bat shit crazy.
While clever, I also found the names highly distracting. Until I didn't. But I guess anything starts to sound normal with sufficient repetition. :- ?
I adored the parts of the book where Renzy was getting to know the siblings and beginning to care for them as much as they began to care for Renzy.
I also 'liked' the love story between Renzy and Seven, but I never truly got quite the level of genuine, believable feels that I would have liked for their pairing.
Yes, this was a YA story; however, the MC's were 19 and 18, so I wouldn't have minded a bit more slow, exploratory 'tenderness' happening on page. Yes, I mean S-E-X, but only because I suspect that it would have helped develop the deeper, heart-felt connection that I craved.
To be honest, other than the very first part of the book, which dealth with them being at the high school, once the decided to embark on their "Let's Solve the Mystery of Renzy" road trip, the story left all elements of YA behind in my mind and pretty much became NA. So I don't feel that more 'intimacy' would have been out of place by that point.
One thing that did truly surprise me was that the mystery never bored me, which is extremely rare for me. Normally, if you throw a mystery my way, I could give a damn as to "who dunnit", but not here. I think the major plot twist toward the end helped greatly in that respect.
Another surprise was where the story went in regards to Renzy's selective mutism. I'm all for the whole "you do you" thing, but in Renzy's case, I'm not sure how many in his situation would have made the same choice. And it was purely a choice. So yep, still scratching my head hard over that unexpected, strange ("to me") ending.
While this story didn't achieve quite the same level of feels that Mia's "The Red Sheet" and her "One Voice" series did, I'd still rate this book at around 4 stars and recommend it for any fans of YA/NA M/M stories.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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