“To intervene when words alone weren’t enough.”
Kai is a healthy young man in a lot of respects, a healthy sex life, a healthy self esteem, a great family and he has a wonderful relationship with his older brother Chuck. He is a very talented musician, popular, his life is right on track.
Jamie is the opposite in almost every way. He was called 'Pretty Vacant' throughout his high school years, because although he's pretty, he never interacted with anyone. He doesn't make eye contact, he doesn't smile, he doesn't talk and when he does it's who Kai calls ' bitchy Jamie'.
Kai soon realizes there is far more to Jamie than meets the eye.
“His overall style was a paradox of dark and bright, of bold and artsy, of “keep your distance” and “please notice me.”
Kai is probably the first person in Jamie's life to really see him.
He wants to help and devises a plan "So I became dedicated to sending daily messages of inspiration… to Jamie Arlotta, who still wouldn’t speak to me.”
It took me a while to get through this story, I would stop and listen to the songs that Kai picked to tell Jamie all the things he wanted him to know.
It's a beautiful way of speaking, of sharing. He let his love of music speak for him.
Slowly Kai sees there is also 'shy Jamie' 'sweet Jamie' ' scared Jamie', but it takes a while for Jamie to trust Kai enough to show him his other sides.
The story is told from Kai's POV and I loved seeing how caring for Jamie, wanting to help him and falling in love with him changed Kai's life as much as it changed Jamie's.
Jamie is messed up from what his stepbrother did to him and is still doing to him.
Kai and his family, especially his brother Chuck, are wonderful, so supportive, patient and kind to Jamie, even when it's not easy. Jamie doesn't make it easy for Kai , it often felt like for every step forward he took one step back. “I also knew this was gonna be a very long road with Jamie. And there’d be no shortcuts.
But it was the road I’d chosen.”
But I guess when you haven't felt safe in your home, in your life, since the age of 14, trust and hope are going to be damn hard.
Kai understood that “From what little I knew of him, I could assume Jamie had morphed into a different person—a distant, cold, kind of cynical dude—thanks to the helplessness and fear he’d been forced to live with. All that pain and betrayal had forever changed his relationship with the world and everyone in it. So, yeah, sometimes it was just too damned late to say “sorry.”
This felt like a 'quiet' story, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of emotions and music and art and interaction, but it felt mature, slow, a realistic development and well paced.
I loved how the music and art played such a huge roll for these young men.
Jamie is a wonderful artist in his own right and has used his art to make his life bearable. He shows it in how he decorates his place, as Kai calls “in his crayon box of a crib ". He uses it to communicate with Kai, to thank people and to help tell his story.
I got to know and understand Kai better than Jamie, but seeing how much Kai felt for him, made me love Jamie too. I feel Kai changes at least as much as Jamie does, possibly more. He matures and learns as much as he wants to do things for the man he loves, he also has to let him do it for himself and in his own way.
This is a wonderful YA story. It is serious but also sweet and hopeful. The cover is amazing and the way art and music in all its forms are used to help tell the story was a highlight for me.