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).
I truly struggled with this book. I wanted to like it more than I could. At the same time, the storytelling is amazing. There is so much pain and suffering. It’s wonderfully written and so vivid. But it’s hard to read because the positive emotions don’t come shining through like all of the bad things. The title is definitely appropriate though. This isn’t a love story, at all. There’s romance to a tiny degree, though I had a few issues with it. But the story is about Romeo getting off the streets and finding a measure of happiness when there’s not much to be happy about. The story is also a frank look at what life on the streets for LGBTQIA youth is like. It’s not pretty, it’s not happy, it’s not glamorous. But it’s realistic and opens your eyes to those most choose not to see as they go about their life. That aspect of the story was amazingly done. There were a few plot lines I questioned why they were in the story. They seemed to not be fully fleshed out and didn’t add much to the overall story. The kidnapping, and father ones are two that stick out as the biggest. However there were other smaller ones. I liked how Romeo connected with Crash later in the story. That was a solid friendship for him to have and it developed in a way that made sense for Romeo. I also liked how Romeo had a safety net by the end of the story. He could fall back on that if needed and it gave him the strength to stand up for himself and his decisions. I took issue with Romeo’s relationship with Julian. Romeo clung to Julian desperately. He followed along and didn’t think for himself much or make any decisions on his own the entire time he’s with Julian or away from Julian. His only thoughts are what Julian wants and how to get back to Julian. His singleminded focus never came across as love; it felt like desperation. Towards the end when Romeo finally stood up for himself and started to make it long term. I would have liked to get to know Julian more. Despite him being a central character to the story, we truly don’t get to know him that well. His history and story seems interesting and I’d enjoy a story where he’s the focus. I adored Crash. He was such a good friend to Romeo when he needed it and gave his support without any conditions or restrictions. I really want to see his story. I struggled with the ending. The final chapter and the epilogue tried to give me hope for Romeo’s future but I just couldn’t see it. The emotions weren’t there and I didn’t believe Romeo or Julian’s feelings by that point. The epilogue was a bit abrupt and just ended. It felt like Romeo was just about ready to blossom but we don’t get to see it or have the chance to believe it on our own. The story felt incomplete when I was done reading. If there’s ever a sequel I’d love to read it to see how Romeo and Julian handle being grown ups together and if they make it long term or not.
Three and a half
Award Winning Author. Prolific Reader (though less prolific than she’d like). Lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories.
Suki Fleet writes lyrical stories about memorable characters, and believes everyone should have a chance at a happy ending.
Her first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards.
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