Note: This ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review.
“I’m right here,” he says quietly. He’s lying on his back on the other side of the bed. He rolls over onto his side to face me, opens his arms, and I scoot closer so he can hold me. I breathe in his scent. I must be getting better. I can smell again.“Don’t go,” I beg. I can’t do this without him.“I won’t.”
The Bravest Thing is a coming-of-age story from Laura Lascarso and is my first read from the author as well. This was hauntingly beautiful, a tale that, at times, was difficult to read because of how painfully real the issues the main characters, Texan cowboy Berlin Webber and town transplant Hiroku Hayashi, were forced to confront even at their age. Berlin is one of the most popular kids in his school, but the high school junior is keeping secrets, fearful how his sexuality will be accepted--or not--by his friends and peers. Then he meets the new transfer student, and Hiroku immediately captures Berlin's attention and fascination. They become allies and friends and soon a romance is brewing between the two boys. But when the truth about who they are and what they share is brought to light, both Berlin and Hiroku will have to face the kind of hate and prejudice that neither one deserves or could have ever been wholly prepared for. Hiroku has only known one way to cope, and if Berlin has any hope for them to overcome the current trials and tribulations, he may have to be strong enough for himself and Hiroku.
Coming-of-age stories are not always easy to tell and I admit that it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to this particular romance sub-genre. Some stories come off as awfully frivolous, becoming nothing more than vehicles describing first kisses and shy glances but with libidos needing to be reigned in. With Laura Lascarso's tale of teen love challenged by bigotry and homophobia, she not only gives readers a story that the reader can sink their teeth in to, but she also gives readers characters with teeth, meaning there's more to them than two teenagers looking for love and finding it when they least expect it. This was more than just a love story. Both Berlin and Hiro had to do some growing up, needing to make decisions and choices that were not necessarily easy, but they had to be honest with both themselves and with others around them, regardless of whether they would be accepted or not. Their relationships with family, friends, and the community they were in were also part and parcel of this amazingly moving and inspiring YA romance. The Bravest Thing is one of this year's very best reads. Five-plus stars. ♥
Release Date: 17 April 2017
Date Read: 16 April 2017
Learn more about Laura Lascarso.
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