Author: Suki Fleet
Print Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: February 8, 2016
2016 Rainbow Award Winner – Best Gay Young Adult
When Dashiel’s body is found dumped on an East London wasteland, his best friend Danny sets out to find the killer. But Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharks—a reckless search for dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable.
A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws this lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled, fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect him—from what, he doesn’t know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realizes that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny can’t help him fight against.
To save Micky, Danny must risk expanding his world and face something that scares him more than any shark ever could: trusting he will be accepted for who he is. If a freezing winter on the streets, a sadistic doctor, and three thousand miles don’t tear them apart first, that is.
The use of first person present tense works well for the POV narrator’s young age and his mental condition (I’m assuming Danny has Asperger’s). It makes the events and his responses more immediate, and we get to see how others treat him through his own eyes. Many people think he’s stupid, but he’s not. He has difficulty communicating his thoughts and often prefers to write down what he can’t form into spoken words. Until he meets Mickey, that is.
The story style reminded me of a little of The Curious Dog in the Night-Time, but of course, that plot is entirely different. Suki has a wonderful way with words and the writing throughout is superbly done. Her main characters, their background, physical descriptions, personalities are all well-developed and shown through their actions and dialogue. Danny in particular is captivating.
The first half or so of the book presents life on the streets of London for homeless youth. You can almost feel the cold and the hunger, and sense the poverty and the danger Danny and others suffer. The idea of ‘sharks’ or ‘predators’ on the lookout for these youngsters adds to the fear factor as Danny wanders the streets at night searching for one killer in particular.
There were a few chapters around the 20/25% mark where I wanted the story to move a little faster, but on the whole the pace is swift. Looking back now, I understand that all those events and scenes are a necessary part of the story. A necessary part of getting to know Danny. The last quarter or so when Mickey and Danny are living together are especially gripping. I loved the togetherness and the angst. The ending is wonderful, since I was fearing the worst at one stage. Yes, the story left me with a greater awareness of living conditions for homeless people, but the hope and happiness at the end for this couple gave me a positive vibe.
Danny is such a lovely, helpful person. The grief he feels for Dashiel is palpable. I adored how Danny describes his attraction for Mickey and how these feelings increase as their friendship blossoms. My heart hurt for him when he thinks Mickey is just pretending with him and can’t possibly feel the same way. But Mickey is also such a wonderful soul. Both boys are damaged inside and out in their own way. Their scenes together are all beautifully written and the sex scenes perfectly suit the characters and the tone of the story. I loved how Mickey understands Danny, gives him time and space, and helps him grow in confidence. He seems to know exactly what Danny needs. And Danny is exactly who Mickey needs. “And if we have to live like foxes, then we’ll live like foxes. I only want to be with you.”
There’s plenty of angst along the way for Danny. He is remarkable in the way he copes with his situation and life in general. He knows his triggers and has methods to cope when he is out of his comfort zone. My heart was in my mouth during moments of suspense. The plot twists and turns and is far from predictable. Great writing, Fabulous story. Terrific characters. Highly recommended.
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.
February 10 – Back Porch Reader