Sloan Parker – Something to Believe In

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Author: Sloan Parker
Reviewed by: Diane
Publisher: MLR Press
Genre: M/M Holiday
ISBN 13:   9781608208371

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:  After running away from the hatred and abuse of their teen years, Sean and Gavin have been hustling to survive for too long now. When some extra cash lands them alone in a hotel room until Christmas, they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Now neither one can imagine watching the other walk off with one more trick. Even with no money and no job prospects, Sean is determined to not just show Gavin what a real home and holiday is like, but to keep them off the streets for good and build a life together 

Review: Something to Believe In is a story about hope, about believing life can be better and finding a way to anchor that belief.

Sean finds himself at a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve and is startled to discover he’s been away from home for two years after a nasty argument with his mother who used the awful word “faggot” towards him.  His fear of his grandparents sharing that rejection led him out of the house thinking he’d be better off alone, even though he was only a junior in high school at the time.  After losing his waiter job and being kicked out of a shared apartment when he could not make rent, he was on the street, where he has been driven to some desperate measures to eat and survive.

On this Christmas Eve, he encounters someone about his own age, who he initially dubs Biker Boots, but we later find out is Gavin, a street kid since he walked out of an abusive foster home.

They cross paths again after the meal when Gavin steps in to stop Sean from making what they both know would have been a mistake, and they pretty much watch out for each other from that night on.

The rest of the book is their journey from a year after meeting to decide where to go from here and what kind of future they want for themselves and together.

The story is told from Sean’s point of view.

Now, that set up may not seem like a normal one for a Christmas story since they often are short and happy stories, or with a little angst, but not to this degree.  However, I felt this story was incredible in showing how there are people having to go through this, young people, but that it is possible to find a way out.

While there is definitely a good ending to this story, I will caution that there are references and acts of prostitution, not in graphic detail, but enough that you know what the characters are going through.  There is observation of drug use and simply the fact these young people are on the street may be challenging for some readers.

However, if you enjoy stories of hope during hard times, then you will enjoy this book.

It is very character driven and despite everything Gavin and Sean go through, somehow they manage not to lose themselves and allow themselves to open up to each other in a way they had not done before meeting each other.  Through an unexpected “windfall”, they get a hotel room to share leading up to Christmas rather than the usual warehouse they stay in and during that time, Sean shares memories of his grandparents, the people he actually misses from home, but the ones he felt he could not handle their rejection if they believed as his mother did.

Somehow, through the time they spend in that hotel room, realizing what they feel for each other and what they want for each other, Sean decides to take a chance and go see his grandparents.  What he finds, after not seeing them for three years, shocks him, but as the reader, get the Kleenex out because you’ll be crying, it is that kind of heartfelt ending!

I know not all kids on the street will get to have the opportunity Sean and Gavin get in this story, but I hope with the various groups out there, and how the support is growing, they have places to go if their childhood home is no longer an option so they don’t have to be faced with the limitations they find on the street – they deserve so much more, they deserve to be kids!

Thanks to Sloan for bringing this story to life, there is so much more to it than simply a Christmas story and it will be one of those books that stays with me well after I’m done reading, but I will easily read it again as well.

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