This is a YA novel with writing that seems skewed towards a younger audience (middle school) but touches on some heavy themes — child abuse, namely. It’s a sad story with an uplifting message — “Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.” Roe doesn’t pull any punches which makes the story incredibly powerful. She tells the story in simple language, but the story itself is far from simple.
“Because people heal a whole lot faster when they’re with someone who loves them”
Adam Blake, a senior in high school, gets an unusual assignment as a student aide one day: he needs to get a kid to open up to him. The kid turns out to be Julian, a foster kid who lived with Adam’s family 5 years prior and then disappeared one day — presumably back to his family. Julian is sweet and creative, but there’s something troubled under the surface. And once Adam starts to learn a little more about Julian, and the environment he lives in, he has to make some very grown up decisions.
“What keeps you trapped? What keeps you from living the life you want? What keeps you from being free?”
There are moments in this book where I would have given anything to see Adam pick up a phone and call a damn adult. But instead he makes the kinds of decisions a teenager would — keeping secrets to help a friend or avoid trouble. And it’s frustrating, but also honest. In addition to everything going on with Julian, Adam also open struggles with ADHD. Roe does a great job of demonstrating the disorders effects on Adam’s schooling and personal life without making that the whole story of his character.