Author: Laura Lascarso
Publisher: Dreamsinner Press
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.
Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.
Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?
I think I was expecting something a little less adult given the ages of the MCs in this story, but the issues they faced and their experiences were very adult in nature; they were also heartbreaking. Personally, I think that teens today face many more challenges growing up among peer pressure than years ago, so it’s hard to imagine how much more intense and scary it can be when you add in being gay or different in any way and trying to deal with that in a rural homophobic small town.
It seems like the only thing that Berlin and Hiroku have in common is their age; in just about every other way they are as different as black vs. white and yet there is a magnetic pull of attraction that neither can deny. I was drawn to their story immediately and kept expecting the worst to happen (based on the blurb), so I felt like I was cowering around every new page. I got lulled into a false sense of “okay, that’s the worst that’s going to happen”, because believe me, things were never easy with these two. But then, the unimaginable actually happened and I was horrified.
Everyone copes with difficulties in very different ways, but Hiro’s method of coping was self-destructive and downright dangerous. Both young men had hidden strength and their strength won out over the challenges they faced, but the journey to reach that point was one helluva ride. If faced with just a fraction of everything they dealt with at their age, I’m certain I would have crumbled.
As you begin this book, expect high angst, a complex relationship, toxic friends/family/neighbors, and the potential for traumatic triggers for some people, but don’t let it deter you from getting to the end and enjoying the reward that comes with a hard won battle. Recommended!!