Author: Robin Roe.
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.
Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives… (Published summary)
I’m not going to comment on the content. But focusing on the other parts of the book…
Chapters go back and forth in viewpoint between the two main characters, and I found their voices very well done. Adam and Julian simply see the world very differently. Adam often takes his friends for granted, always talking and laughing, taking the initiative. He wants to help Julian but doesn’t understand him at first. But Julian sees and notes Adam’s easy manner, the way he spreads happiness wherever he goes, his constant friendliness. He feels trapped and helpless in a way Adam never would in the same situation – but Julian’s fear is viscerally real to readers. Two pairs of eyes, two very different worlds, and it’s a great work in compare-and-contrasting.
More, I love the fact that the book is all about the power of friendship. Not in an overdone or sappy way, but still in a very touching way.
Sexual Content: “When you combine the sudden heat, stripping, and intertwining limbs, lunch is basically soft-core-porn time.” (He’s joking; says the cafeteria is much warmer than the school, and his friends shed layers rapidly before trying to cram together around one table.) Mention of a girl wearing a very low-cut shirt. In describing a dare-game, boy complains that while they can be dared to strip, girls aren’t allowed to be dared to remove undergarments. One student dares another to flirt with a teacher. Brief party-game (dares again) scene involving taking shirts off. / “And we’d play this game where you could ask to see any body part you wanted. I’d ask to see her vagina. She’d ask to see my feet.” / After a boy touched a girl’s breasts (through her bra) she’s so ashamed she takes off her purity ring. Some kissing. Girl says she’s ready to have sex, and the scene fades to black with the two undressing/unclothed.
Language: 11 F-words, 8 hell, 7 scatological terms, 5 a**h*le, 1 derogatory term.
Violence: Teen’s guardian whips him multiple times with a thin, cutting willow switch. Same guardian hits him across the face. Later: