Rating 5 stars out of 5
You’ll make it out of here, Brian. I swear.
I had everything. I was school quarterback, popular with girls, and my dad was proud of me. I told myself it didn’t matter no one knew the real me. And then I nearly died. Landon saved my life. He’s the bravest guy I know. He came out a few years ago, proud and fierce, and he ran into gunfire to help others. Me, I’m a mess. Can’t even stand to be in a room with the curtains open. But here’s the thing about losing it all: You get a chance to start over and be someone new, someone true. Only how can I move on when the two shooters who attacked our school were never caught? And why do I feel like I’m still in the crosshairs?
Will you kiss me?
When I came across Brian Marshall, the hottest guy in school, dying on the cafeteria floor, I did what anyone would do. I tried to save him. His request surprised me, but I figured he needed comfort, so I kissed him on the forehead. When he survived and came back to school, he was broken in body and mind. He still needed me, and soon we were unlikely besties. But what I witnessed that day woke me up. I want to demand action on gun control, lead protests, raise my fist. I’ll tear the world down if I have to. And if I can get the boy of my dreams and save the world at the same time? I’ll take it. Only I didn’t understand that the horror at Jefferson Waller High wasn’t over.
This is the story of how Brian survived a mass shooting at his high school and how Landon, the boy who stopped to help him, became an activist, his friend, and ultimately his lover.
There aren’t words to describe how incredibly emotional, meaningful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming this story is. Only Eli Easton could wring tears from a turnip. Honestly. Those who know me know I occasionally cry, i.e., a few tears appear on my lashes. Let’s just say when Brian’s poem “18 Chairs” is read at the end of this story, I literally sobbed.
I knew going in that this would be an emotional story, and as I started to read I had to take several breaks—some short, some long—so I could regroup and move forward. Yes, there are scenes of graphic violence. That’s the topic, after all. And the author clearly warns of that. But the emotions are so visceral, so raw, I had to back off, and I actually walked away for a day so I could go back fresh. And then I kept moving forward until around the 85% mark when the action picked up again and the events and drama unfolding on-page propelled me in rapt attention to the end. Riveting. Gut-wrenching. Superb.
I loved the strength and completeness of the author’s treatment of the characters—not only of the MCs but of multiple secondary characters, who all played an important role in this story. I appreciated the way the topic of gun control legislation was handled and the sensitivity the author showed to survivors of past shootings such as those from Parkland.
And, mostly, I appreciated the happy ending showing hope for a bright future. I love your work, Eli Easton! Versatile isn’t even a strong enough descriptor. I am avidly looking forward to more in future. In the meantime, I very, very highly recommend this book! It’s most definitely in my top 5 stories of 2018.
The cover by Tiferet Designs is incredible and features a close-up of a young man as seen through a broken mirror. It not only reflects how the mirror would be shattered in a tragedy such as the one described, but also how the life of the character is so shattered and difficult to piece back together.
Kindle Edition, 317 pages
Published October 16th 2018
Edition Language English