Eighteen-year-old Oliver’s troubles don’t end when he’s released from prison. He has nowhere to go, and he can’t even think about moving past his crimes while trying to survive homelessness.
Helping an elderly woman after a fall guides Oliver into at least a temporary home. In exchange for odd jobs and some assistance, he’s welcomed into a life with the old twin spinsters, and it seems too good to be true. The neighbor, Simon, certainly thinks it is. He doesn’t trust Oliver or his motives. Oliver is used to that kind of judgment, but it isn’t helping him overcome his guilt. Maybe Simon is right and Oliver doesn’t deserve happiness—or any of the other feelings stirring in a heart Oliver thought he’d closed off for good.
Oliver has two options: let the pain of his past swallow him and destroy all hope for the future, or move on to the new possibilities in front of him. Choosing to live won’t be easy, and Oliver might not be able to do it alone.
With teen protagonists and an absence of explicit scenes, Mulhall's (Heavyweight) would-be gritty romance apparently aims at the YA market. But its curiously antique language is better aimed at grandparents doing the actual buying or would be, if ageist slurs weren't pervasive. Oliver Sutton is 18 and recently released from adult prison. Alone and living on the street, he's reluctantly touched by the distress of an old woman. She and her sister give him a home and he shows his gratitude by seeing them as "crafty old biddies" with "age-addled brains." As for the hot guy next door, Simon Green, he's "the other boy" and a "grease monkey." Oliver also calls his bones "calcium-laced supports" and his fingers "precious digits." The book is a baroque and improbable edifice of verbosity that overwhelms a simple plot of proximity, sympathy, and hormones leading to first love. Mulhall makes well-meaning gestures toward important issues such as teen incarceration and PTSD, but in this context they feel as far out of touch as the vocabulary.