Reviewed by Becca
TITLE: There Was a Boy
AUTHOR: Justin Durand
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 233 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2017
Tall, slim, shy Aaron Larkin has four objectives as he begins his eighteenth year: run a 5K in less than 15:21, graduate from high school, begin dating and come out of the closet. Two days after his birthday, a momentous first date with the man of his dreams convinces Aaron he’s in love and ready for marriage. However, Aaron must first address the damage he suffered from a difficult childhood.
“You aren’t super macho. More like…sweet and hot.”
That‘s how Aaron’s friend and neighbor Michelle, the smartest girl in the class, describes him. She promises he’ll meet someone soon.
Aaron is skilled at ignoring an unhappy childhood that left him serene on the outside and insecure, vulnerable and anxious on the inside. From middle school on, he concentrated on getting good grades and running faster but also gained more than enough experience with hopeless crushes on really nice straight classmates. Now, at the start of his last semester of high school, he’s ready for a real romance. With help from Michelle and a pooch named Daisy, he meets three seriously good-looking guys who invite him to join their running club. Daniel, Justin and Matthew are a few years older than Aaron but they quickly accept him into their social group. Life has programmed Aaron to be pessimistic but he gets his hopes up and for the first time he makes a connection with another gay guy.
Aaron knows “the course of true love never did run smooth,” but he lets himself forget and believe that it will for him. Naturally, when it doesn’t he blames himself.
There Was a Boy recounts a pivotal time when a teenager enters adulthood sooner than he’s ready, meets the man of his dreams and falls in love. Aaron has a lot to learn about sex and love. He’s positive he’s found the right teacher but an additional lesson awaits him and he must confront the wounds of his childhood before he can graduate to his new life.
I had a hard time thinking of a way to write this review. Not because the book was bad, but quite the opposite. The book was amazing and I wanted to make sure I gave this book the review it deserved.
There Was a Boy is a coming out story, but it’s also so much more than that. Although the book is fiction, there is so much truth to what is happening that you could almost read it as a nonfiction book. At first, I honestly didn’t think I would like it. It started out a little slow, but the more I read, the more I was hooked.
Like so many teens in this country, Aaron is a shy, quiet boy who just wants to get through high school, but he has so many things he is trying to come to terms with. The biggest is coming out. But with what he deals with at home and his fear of his guardians, he doesn’t think he can do it. Until he meets some new running friends. Running has been Aaron’s way to cope with all he is dealing, and meeting these men has put him on cloud 9, especially Danny.
This story brought tears to my eyes so many times because you feel for Aaron in many ways. Suffering abuse has left him with an abundance of emotions, and if you have been abused or know someone who has you know it can be traumatic. It leaves Aaron feeling vulnerable and insecure about himself and often suffering from bouts of depression. He always felt he never measured up. Then he meets Danny and his friends and life begins to turn around. Both having insecurities of their own, Danny and Aaron begin counseling and things begin to change for the better.
I don’t want to quote the blurb and I don’t want to give to much away but I want people to read this book. If you know a teen who is struggling, let them read this book and be a support system. That is what is important to me with this book. So many teens today don’t have support they need when they come out. They are often kicked out or abused by people who are supposed to be family. They live on the streets and often do unhealthy things in order to survive.
Now I want to stress that this book has a happily ever after. And I loved every minute of it once I got into it. I loved Aaron’s character and the strength he showed even when he didn’t think he had any. He persevered. He keep going and never gave up no matter how depressed he felt. That takes guts. I loved that the author gave him friends and other parents and a wonderful support system. I beg anyone reading this though to read this book and be a support. And if you are a support, good for you. And for the author, Mr. Durand, bravo for a book well written and for giving a play by play of what so many teens go through.