Forty-Two Stairs by A.F. Henley
Owen has been struggling with addiction since he was a teenager, but it takes a DUI involving another vehicle for him to finally face his issues. The road to recovery is a rough one, and for Owen it’s a journey made harder by bankruptcy, loneliness, and repressed memories.
His new apartment doesn’t help either. It’s small, worn, and hot as hell. The only way to reach it is a tedious stretch of stairs that seems like the final insult on top of a whole pile of misery. Thankfully, the mess comes with one bright spot: intense, pretty Sebastian, who seems to have a knack for keeping his head up and finding the beauty in everything.
So what did I think?
Owen and Sebastian– two men who aren’t perfect, men with issues and baggage– who take a journey of discovery and find out that sometimes it is easier to move forward with someone to lean on, and that “someone” doesn’t need to be perfect.
Owen is at a low point in his life, a drunk driving charge resulting in him losing his job, home and boyfriend. He is placed on probation and needs to start over and therefore moves into a small apartment, directly over Sebastian’s apartment. It takes him forty-two stairs to reach his new apartment– a tortuous journey that Sebastian assures him will become easier.
The story follows the evolution of Owen and Sebastian’s relationship against the doubts they both have. Owen, as reinforced by his brother and his AA sponsor, believes that a new relationship will hinder his recovery. But it’s not as simple as overcoming the physical addiction– there are many ghosts in Owen’s past that drove him to lose himself in alcohol. Sebastian has his own issues and doesn’t want to hurt Owen in any way.
Purple-haired Sebastian is the highlight of the story. There was something so engaging about his character. He also responded so beautifully to Owen, knowing what needed to be said to help Owen to deal with the ghosts from his past and move forward with this life. I would love to spend some more time with Sebastian, to get to know him, more insight into his problems and how he ended up maintaining the apartment block.
Owen’s life does change and his relationship with Sebastian deepens in parallel with his ability to climb the forty-two steps without getting breathless.
“Yeah,” Owen chuckled. “Those first few trips up are nasty. You get used to it, though.”
His mother rose and tugged her clothing into place. “Let me guess? You just have to keep making the trip.”
“And look up,” Owen said brightly. “You’d be surprised the difference that looking up makes.”
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in return for my honest review.
To find out more about A.F. Henley, visit the website.
Buy Forty-Two Stairs from Less Than Three Press (available 25th June 2014)