When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.
Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.
This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).
Do you have favorite authors? I imagine you do, I know I have a list of special, auto-buy, favorite authors. Early in my reading career (yes, I consider myself a professional part-time reader!) I had tunnel vision and only cared about the words on the pages. This works for many and I have no judgment if that’s the type of reader you are. However, as I have become a more seasoned reader, I’ve broadened my focus and I pay attention to the person behind the story in addition to the story itself. I wish to surround myself with honest and genuinely good people, and that includes my literary world. There are valid reasons why I consider myself a Suki Fleet groupie and her ability to proficiently pen a powerful story is only one of them. I think she is a magnificent human and I wish her all the success in the world…and I pray she never stops telling her stories! Now that I’ve had my fangirl moment, let’s move along to this love (#notlove) story.
Did you have a chance to read the blurb? It’s extremely informative and expresses the core of this story. If your first impression is a somber tone, you would be correct. The voice is solemn because Romeo’s situation is grim. The details are sobering but accurate. If you expect to sail through this story unscathed, you would be sadly mistaken. It’s harsh. It’s jarring. It’s gloomy. But it’s true what they say, the clouds eventually dry up and the darkness will fade. There was a thin thread of hope and I held on with all my might. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Most of the time I want to escape reality when I read, but every once in a while I crave a dose of an eye-opening tangible tale. Suki is my go-to when I want a heart-tugging young adult story. I felt a slow burn develop in my tummy as I journeyed with these two young men and by the time I finished the final pages, I was eager to…do something. I wish I had a staggering bank account I could dip into. I wish I had more time to donate. But rather than wish in one hand all day, I want to use my spark to make a difference, even if it’s small. Homeless youth, especially homeless LGBT youth, need all the help and love they can get. This drive I feel is not new, but this story is a stark reminder of why the children in our world need our love. Thank you, Suki, for allowing us this intimate peek into Romeo and Julian’s life, to help us remember those forgotten souls.
Suki’s characters always astound me, so it’s no grand surprise that Romeo and Julian are what make this story so spectacular for me. Romeo is vulnerable because of his tender age and his lack of speech but Julian swoops in and gives him something new. Julian loves him. Romeo is uncertain at first. He can’t stop his own feelings from burning bright but hasn’t concluded if Julian feels the same. He thinks he does, but it’s so foreign to him, and honestly, he’s not sure he could survive if it’s not reciprocated. Many things try to break him but this would certainly do him in. It’s hard to focus on the love in this, not a love story, because of their staggering daily struggle to survive. But believe me, it’s there. They have a connection and a devotion that will take your breath away. I promise it’s worth it in the end.
An overwhelming and oppressive flood of feelings. These teenagers have suffered and suffered and suffered more. It includes all of the nightmares homeless teens battle on a daily basis. This is not a horror but it depicts horrific events. It’s rare that I make an exception to my rule of balanced angst, but this story gets a free pass. It’s not balanced yet it’s so poignant I couldn’t help but appreciate it. There are possible triggers for some; they all coincide with life on the streets.
This is not for the tender-hearted reader. It’s for those readers who crave an impacting story that will touch you deeply and forever stay in your heart.
TITLE: This is Not a Love Story
AUTHOR: Suki Fleet
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
LENGTH: 270 pages
RELEASE DATE: May 22, 2014
BUY LINKS: Harmony Ink Press, Amazon, Dreamspinner Press (ebook currently unavailable, will post new links when possible)