At it's simplest, it's a sweet love story. Michael, an all American track star meets Christy, and enigmatic mute and there is instant chemistry. As Michael slowly gets to know Christy, he gradually learns of an appalling history of abuse and degradation. Christy is in a very bad place and Michael gradually helps him take baby steps towards healing while fending off psychotic homophobes, getting in with the biker crowd and finally coming up against the people who abused Christy. Given they are at the highest level of the Greek elite, including government officials, it isn't easy and when a scumbag with diplomatic immunity snatches Christy and tries to take him back to the life he escaped, Michael simply won't give up until he's exhausted the last of his strength to rescue his pretty Christy.
This is really the very bare bones of a story that totally gripped me from the first to the last word. It was by no means a quick or an easy read but there wasn't a single moment I lost interest.
If I have a criticism, it's that everyone was too calm when the horror was unfolding. Michael, a somewhat sheltered seventeen year old, doesn't turn a hair when a psychotic homophobe holds a gun to his head, and in my view was way too calm when the same psycho blows up his car. Although it mentions Michael's mother getting stressed it doesn't actually show anyone but Christy freaking out, and I thought that was a little to cold and clinical. It also didn't ring quite true when the baddy kept escaping. The police, private security and um special security details just kept messing up and I found this frustrating.
That, however is the only thing I can think of to make any kind of negative comment on. The story is incredible and unfolds in a mindblowingly natural and un-sensationalized way, given the topic.
It is not a story to read if you are squeamish about the absolute horror of trafficking in the horrendous abuse of children. the imagery can get quite graphic although nothing is explained in great detail. Whilst we are not given graphic descriptions of the horrendous abuse we are left with no illusions about what happened to Christy, the damage it did, and the horrors he continues to suffer because of it.
The relationship between Michael and Christy is sweet and beautiful. It develops sweetly and gently and we're rooting for them right from the start. The supporting cast are also vivid and well drawn, especially Jake, Michael's best friend and Sophia, Christy's...cousin.
Yes, some of the characters are stereotypes but writing this kind of story that's going to be inevitable and the stereotyping is used well.
One thing I really love is the little details. Like a series of paintings based on the work of Edgar Alan Poe, and little side sketches of a visit to a lingerie shop and the interaction with the saleswoman. So many little touches that made the whole thing really come to life.
I know I'm gushing but I'm still reeling and screaming Why!!!!!...did the book have to end?