I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.
Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.
With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him - of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability - Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?
Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.
©2012 J. P. Barnaby (P)2014 Dreamspinner Press
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Zedd on 10-11-17


I was hooked on the story on the cuteness and how someone can recover from something so dark.
The narrator was amazing

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Havan_IronOak on 26-07-14

Great Three-Hankie Tear-jerker of a book

If you could sum up Aaron in three words, what would they be?

tearjerker, sweet, hopeful

What was one of the most memorable moments of Aaron?

The early sex scene between Spenser and the delivery guy

What does Tyler Stevens bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Great narration. The characters were distinct and their vocal idiosyncrasies fit my picture of the characters very well.

If you could take any character from Aaron out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Spenser he's less damaged than Aaron and I get on well with deaf guys

Any additional comments?

Two years ago Aaron's life as he knew it ended when he and his best friend Juliet stopped to give directions to the men in the beat-up van that hailed them. Now Juliet is in the cemetery and most days Aaron wishes he was too. Instead he lives in state of near constant terror unable to look at his scarred face in the mirror or even shower his burned and scarred body without flashing back on the horrifying events of that day. His sleep is full of nightmares and even the slightest touch of his loving mother sends him into a downward spiral toward terror that only heavy doses of tranquilizers and anti-anxiety meds have seemed to make a dent in.

And yet when Aaron's mother pushes him to take a computer course at a community college, Aaron is forced to interact with Spencer, a deaf boy with issues of his own. Yet, somehow these two misfits find a way closer to normalcy through each other.

This story has its flaws and parts are just not credible (and for that I'm deducting a star) but somehow that soon doesn't matter as much as these two wounded souls charm their way into your heart. And it's not just the two protagonists. I love the relationship Aaron has with his mother. I love his two brothers I love Spenser's father. I've always had a thing for characters willing to let their vulnerability show and these characters are all vulnerable and endearing.

For a story that relies so much on psychology and the practice of psychiatry I felt that the details in this area were particularly weak but I really wanted to suspend disbelief, accept the inaccuracies and just move on to what has to be one of the most heart-rending stories I've read in a decade.

If you can manage to maintain that willing suspension of disbelief, this may well be one of those books that you love and read again and again. Perhaps its all those plaintive Simon & Garfunkel songs I was exposed to in my youth along with movies like Brian's Song or even books like Love Story, Death Be Not Proud and Thursday's Child, but I do love a good three hankie story and this is one of the best I've seen in yonks. Plus it has the added attraction of having a hopeful ending and a sequel that I can't wait to read, Spencer.

On an afternote... I listened to the audio-book version of this narrated by Tyler Stevens rather than reading the text version. Stevens did a great job with the narration and the voices of the main characters are easily distinguished and fit well with my conception of the characters. One strange thing I noted though was in an early sex scene between the deaf Spencer and a delivery man. Somehow hearing the inner monologue of a deaf man and his concerns in an audio format, while it sounds a bit twisted, actually made the eroticism of the scene really work well. It made for one of the hottest sex scenes I've encountered in a book this year.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kathleen on 19-06-14

Brace yourself, it's heartbreaking

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend it to anyone who loves an angsty gay romance.

What did you like best about this story?

Extremely well written and researched. Strong family support. Both heartwarming and heart wrenching.

What about Tyler Stevens’s performance did you like?

Excellent narrator. I would like to see him narrate more books in this genre as it has some really amateur "readers" with no range and no voice modulation. Stevens is a professional and very talented.

Any additional comments?

A tragic, yet loving and hopeful coming-of-age story brilliantly written by JP Barnaby. Details of the horrific assault that left his best friend dead and him a broken young man are sprinkled throughout so the listener is not traumatized with a single info dump. We experience the full brunt of the event upon Aaron over about a two month period. It's hard to listen to at times. He meets Spencer, who is deaf, in a college class and who is dealing with his own debilitating issues. They become an unlikely pair, bonding closely as time drifts by, shoring each other up and offering hope where none appeared possible just weeks prior. A wonderful story.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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