Today we have a guest review provided by Renae Kaye, author of Loving Jay and the soon to be released, The Blinding Light.
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)
So what did I think?
Well, Suki Fleet certainly knows how to tear someone’s heart out.
This Is Not A Love Story is certainly not a love story – it is a story of survival, with the two main characters so in love with each other, that they will fight with all they have to stay together. Two boys (I’d like to call them men, but they are not really), homeless and hopeless on the streets where being alone means you don’t survive long. The author has certainly explored the range of emotions a young boy feels when his survival depends on what happens to him hour to hour, and we, the reader, are along for the painful ride.
Told from Romeo’s (Remee) POV, the author is unapologetically honest about what goes on when you live on the street – prostitution, drug use, violence, police, hunger, it all. The story is dark and gut-wrenching, nothing hidden or glossed over. In fact, when I had to leave these two boys on the cold street at about 55% last night so that I could get to sleep, I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to leave them out there in the cold.
We follow Remee’s story and his struggle to stay alive, as well as stay with Julian. Julian, the older of the two, takes the bigger burden of them trying to find their way and make it through the night, selling himself and struggling with the pain afterwards. We meet a range of characters on the street too – those who are barely surviving, those who are about to succumb to its dank depths, and those who seem to enjoy the violence. Romeo and Julian find kindness along the way, but not enough to crawl out from where they are.
This is a story I enjoyed reading. I’m not saying I laughed or even smiled, but I couldn’t put the book down. I was taken on a rollercoaster of despair that was so vivid, I couldn’t find my way out.
I do however have a reserve about how it ended – and be assured there are no OMG moments at the end. This IS a love story, no matter what the title says, but (view spoiler)
But it is a story I recommend to you. I give this author 5 stars and applaud her for writing this novel. It is not a usual romance, and that is a good thing.
About the Guest Reviewer
To find out more about Renae Kaye and her books, visit her website.
Renae’s latest book, The Blinding Light is available from Dreamspinner Press and will be released on 14th July.
About the Author
To find out more about Suki Fleet and her books, visit her website.