Published 11 October 2011
Feiwel & Friends
Stark (Stick) McClellan and his older brother Bosten endure hell on earth in their little town of Point No Point in Washington. They live by strict rules set down by their "perfect on the outside" parents. Behind closed doors the truth of the real horror is seen. Stark and Bosten are victims of child abuse at the hands of their parents. Together the boys have managed to work within the confines of their parents rules. They are stoic as they endure episode after episode of abuse.
As if being abused at home were not enough for a kid to deal with, Stark is born with anotia, a deformity at birth. This deformity impacts his daily dealing with everyone he encounters. He totally believes he is ugly, not worthy of love. He also seems to think everyone believes him to be dumb because of the deformity. This leads me to my only pet peeve of the whole book. Sometimes the way Stark's internal dialog is written he comes off slow and I felt that was a disservice to this dynamic character. Stark is a typical 13 going on 14 year old, who has raging hormones and is just trying to figure out his place in his dysfunctional world. He is bright, strong and a survivor.
When Stark discovers that Bosten is gay, he know that it is only a matter of time before their parents find out and Bosten will have to leave or face an unspeakable wrath from their father. When that day of discovery arrives, Bosten disappears leaving Stark behind. Stark know he cannot bear living alone with his father so he sets out to look for Bosten in the one place they were able to find happiness--California.
Although this book was an extremely emotional read for me, I have to say I was enamored with the story from the very start. I felt like I was in Stark's head, experiencing everything right along side him. Even though the story involved some heinous actions, it was written in a way that was dignified and endearing for the victims. You just want to be the one to speak up for them, to save them. The love between brothers, the acceptance they showed each other was phenomenal and I think it is what allowed them to survive their own personal hell.
Read this book, it is complex and emotional adventure that is not without hope. I give it 4.5 stars!