I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
You can also find me on my main blog.
I wish I had more stars to award...
And I don't really have words to describe what this book did to me.
Heidi Cullinan is a master story teller. I've devoured most everything she's published, and I was salivating for this book. I was also a little apprehensive about how she was going to pull off writing a character on the autism spectrum falling in love with a character who's been diagnosed with major depression and clinical anxiety.
In the hands of another author, this might have been a disaster. In the extremely capable hands of Heidi Cullinan it became a masterfully written, carefully researched and exquisitely respectful master piece.
I don't know a whole lot about autism, other than what I've been able to glean online, and there is such a wide spectrum that it would be difficult for anyone to really comprehend the range of this kind of normal.
I do however know depression, having experienced it myself as a bout of post-partum that made the world look bleak and feel like a black hole, sucking every minuscule milligram of joy from my life. And even though I managed to climb out of that hole, it helped me understand just what Jeremey feels like.
So, perhaps therefore I was able to more closely connect with Jeremey than with Emmet on a purely psychological level, but I adored them both.
Emmet is analytical, straight-forward. He's kind, even if he can't make eye contact. He realizes his limitations, but his parents, especially his mother, have always been very supportive, and have encouraged him to live his life as fully as possible. Emmet loves trains, counting, and the Blues Brothers. And Jeremey.
Jeremey, on the other hand, doesn't have supportive parents. His mother especially, a woman I loathed with a passion for most of the book, has made it extremely difficult for Jeremey to even function. She continuously forces him into situations that she knows will overwhelm him and then berates him for failing.
Jeremey is much more in touch with his own feelings and those of others, which helps and hinders him both.
But Emmet sees Jeremey and decides that they should be friends. And then boyfriends. And live together. Because Emmet believes in Jeremey more than anyone else believes in Jeremey, and together they succeed where they have individually failed.
Of course, it's not without setbacks, and both Emmet and Jeremey have to reassess their limits, but their journey together - it made me weep and it made me smile.
This book is an experience like no other, and I cannot think of anyone who would have been able to treat these very difficult subjects with such care and compassion, and such respect.
The side characters, including David, who is a quadriplegic and a major catalyst in how Emmet and Jeremey communicate, were well done, even if I didn't like Jeremey's parents. David is wonderfully explored, and his character is given an important role by setting his physical disability in contrast to the psychological disabilities in this book, showcasing how differently he works with the hand fate has dealt him. It was also pointed out quite clearly that Emmet sees David as a man, and thus as a potential love interest for Jeremey, instead of just someone in a wheelchair, which causes a huge strife between the men, and is part of a very dark period in their lives, almost derailing them.
This is still a love story at its core, and as such is presented in a loving, emotional way, showcasing how the two characters feel about each other, showing how connected they are, despite and because of their individual limitations.
This was a master piece, and there is no way my review can even attempt to do it justice.
It's still early in the year, but this book is easily going to be in my list of the top reads for 2015.
Read it, I beg you.
** I received an early review copy of this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return. **