Author: J. Roman
Reviewed by: Lucy
Publisher: Harmony Ink
Genre: M/M Young Adult
Summary: For gay teens in the South, Erwin High School is as good as it gets. The prevailing liberalism means being gay doesn’t have to be the focus of your life—which frees up seventeen-year-old Jason Strummer to take on the role of bully. Jason understands his beauty and power and has a reputation to match his attitude. No one but his best friend suspects the cruelty Jason hides behind is a ruse to keep his hellish private life out of the public eye.
Jason has only loved one boy in his life, and that crush on Tommy Johnson ended so badly that they’re no longer on speaking terms. When an ex-lover threatens Jason and Tommy steps in to help, the heartless playboy can’t help but fall a little bit back in love with him—but Jason will have to choose between keeping Tommy or his secrets.
Review: Oh, he’s just horrible. Jason is the cruelest thing, ruining people at the blink of an eye with no remorse. He is the worst sort of bully. The crush on Tommy Johnson ended badly, yes. Due to Jason’s own actions, which were, as the title says, Heartless.
That is what comes across as you begin to read this book, told from Jason’s POV. You get the Jason that everyone except his best friend Kevin have to see. Then you being to realize what is behind Jason’s actions. Horrific is a soft word for his homelife. All he wants is to get through until he can leave. Unfortunately, an attack by an ex-boyfriend gone crazy brings Tommy back into the picture. Tommy, who bullied of Jason when he came out and then was publicly humiliated in a major way by Jason in return.
Even as Tommy rescues him from rape, Jason can’t help but be cruel and push Tommy away. It is to Tommy’s credit that he sees beyond that hard outside. When he asks, “Who broke you?” and Tommy thinks, “I wasn’t just broken. I was ruined”, my heart broke alongside his. Oh, Jason.
It isn’t a happy ever after right then, of course. Jason has a long way to go, but he’s making progress. The first thing I thought when I finished this story was how much it bugs me when people tell teenagers that high school is the best time of your life. Yes, it can be, but usually it isn’t.
I liked what turns out to be the Charlie and Mark safe house. I wish there were options for all teens in crisis. This isn’t a very light read but it’s a hopeful one.