My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After a hit-and-run driver kills David McCleary, his mother, Frieda McCleary, tells her younger son, Patrick, “It should have been you.” While the McCleary family limps along for a while, it clearly died with David. In an effort to deal with her son’s death, Frieda joins a fundamentalist church while her family watches her become a stranger. When she discovers Patrick is gay, she is convinced he is the reason David was taken from her. Patrick’s father runs interference, but when he leaves town for work, she throws Patrick out onto the streets.
As a blond-haired, blue-eyed sixteen-year-old kid from the suburbs, Patrick has lived a sheltered life and doesn’t have a clue how to survive on his own. He’s struggling until he meets a local priest running a homeless shelter who introduces Patrick to Juan, a street-savvy Latino youth wise beyond his years, and they strike up an instant rapport.
It’s not pretty, but they’re making it together, until one night Juan goes off with a stranger to earn a few bucks… and doesn’t come back. Patrick is determined to find him, regardless the danger and cost.
So what did I think?
“Patrick felt as if someone had kicked him in the middle of his soul. He wanted to double over in pain, pain more intense than what he would have felt if someone wearing combat boots had just kicked him hard in the stomach.
How was it possible that just a few words could hurt so much? How? Simple. They were hateful words from one of the two people who were supposed to love him more than anyone else in the world.”
Patrick’s story was such compelling reading, a story that I read with a sense of disbelief. I mean, how could a mother turn her back on her child? I know it happens, I know there are many, many boys like Patrick, denied their homes and families, but this really brought it home. I just wanted to open my arms and my home to Patrick and give him a safe place to grieve and to live.
Patrick’s journey isn’t easy but his attitude was outstanding. He may have been homeless and without a place to lay safely, unable to bathe and no food to eat but he is resilient! I was quietly cheering as he stood up to the ridiculous authority figures at school, who said they were unable, but more like they were unwilling, to help. Who turns their back on a child!
Luckily for Patrick he does find people with kind hearts and souls who help him and his friend Juan. They experience the ultimate challenges life throws at them and resort to doing things no boys should have to do, but they are courageous and strong and together, find a happier path in life.
To find out more about Michael Murphy and his books visit his website.