My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a book I had a lot of strong feelings about. It was recommended to me by a Goodreads friend as a similar read to Heidi Cullinan’s Carry The Ocean, which as you already know I LOVED with all my being.
This book started out very well. I was quickly intrigued by Kevin’s suicide attempt and the fact that he knew nothing about what triggered it, or his aversion to sex. I especially loved the platonic romance he built with Tom, and the fact Tom was very respectful of Kevin’s boundaries. This book just kept getting better and better as we slowly discovered some of Kevin’s triggers. I sat and cried with Kevin as the first reveal came out. That was when I was sure this would become a 5 star book for me, when I powerfully and personally connected with the main character. I knew how it felt to want to shove those old memories deep inside a closet and never look at them again, and Kevin’s anger at Tom for pushing him into therapy and trying to fix him instead of giving him time. I got this book, and it got me.
Sadly, this feeling tapered off as I reached the end. The final reveal felt like too much, too fast. We barely got to know Billy at all, which took the punch out of the scene a little, and in some ways, it seemed like too much drama. We already knew the villain was a monster – was that scene really necessary? I think it might have been better to have kept it to the healing and aftermath of what Kevin had suffered through, and Tom’s struggle as a carer. I also felt the ending wrapped things up a little too neatly – while I understand readers’ desire for a satisfying ending, the long road of healing Kevin had ahead of him at the end of this book was smoothed over in favor of the romantic happily ever after.
That’s not to discount the fact that I really did enjoy and connect with this book, especially the first two-thirds. It’s tough to read about mental illness and trauma, and yet I find doing so to be a cathartic experience now. It stings like alcohol on a cut, and cleanses the same way. This book was well written and trod carefully on delicate ground without talking down to its audience. I really do recommend it and would read it again, despite my criticism.