Title: Golden Like Summer
Series: The Sun Child Chronicles: Book 4
Author: Gene Gant
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Category: Contemporary, Teen Fiction, Gay
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When he escapes the abusive man he calls Pa, Joey thinks his nightmare is over. Instead, a new one begins.
The police don’t buy Joey’s story about the six-year-old boy he saved from Pa during his escape . Suddenly he’s being accused of a crime, threatened, and shown firsthand how the criminal justice system treats a black teen with no resources.
After making another escape, Joey gives himself a new name, Alan, and starts a new life living in an abandoned house. Then he meets Desi, another homeless boy. Though their mutual attraction grows into deeper feelings, Alan’s ordeal has left him afraid of physical love. Still, he’s determined to save Desi from the older teen who’s pimping him out. But in confronting the pimp, Alan and Desi may find themselves in trouble with the law again, a situation that could forever tear them apart.
It’s not very often I stay up all night reading anymore. However, that’s exactly what happened with Golden Like Summer. I absolutely could not put it down even as I sobbed and furiously wiped at my eyes. Joey aka Adam aka Alan truly broke my heart and I couldn’t let him go. This young man was so beautiful. After everything he went through, the pain he endured, the horrors he faced throughout his childhood and adolescence, he still possessed kindness and light. He was so incredibly sweet and I truly wanted to give him a home and a place to feel free, safe and protected without having to hide who he is and what he faced.
“I know people. I got eyes everywhere, Joey. You ever run away, I’ll find you, I’ll get to you, and that’ll be the worst fucking day of your life.” Pa told me that time and time again.
At six years old, Adam Albright became known only as Joey. Thrust into an unimaginable life of isolation, abuse and fear, Joey learned his survival depended on pleasing Pa and Bro in all they demanded of him. But when he sees the familiar pain in an innocent young boy presented as his new brother it propels him to save the boy and escape. If only the world were a better place. Joey’s rescue attempt is unfairly seen as something dark and twisted and he is faced yet again with appalling treatment at the hands of almost everyone he encounters.
It’s not easy to go from one world to another, especially for a young man who can’t truly express how he feels. So as he struggles to find his new normal, it becomes glaringly obvious he’s hanging on by a thread. When that thread snaps, he’s once again thrown into a life no 14-year-old should have to live. He meets people that will forever change his life, does and sees things that help sculpt his view on the world but most importantly forms a friendship and bond with Desi that proves that the boy whose spirit was once battered and bruised can never be broken.
“I don’t want to be angry, you know? I don’t want to hate anybody. I don’t want to be so scared that I have to fight. I just want my life.”
I’m happy I read the Author’s Note before I started the story because while I was familiar with some of the real events that inspired aspects of Golden Like Summer, I’m not sure I would’ve put them all together in my mind. I mean, while we know things like this can and do happen every day, it made the first part of the story resonate even more with me. When I was 12 years, I remember watching the movie I Know My First Name Is Steven. That movie struck a cord with me and I never forgot it. My parents never could figure out what it was about it that intrigued me so much and had me obsessively researching Steven Stayner’s story as much as I did. So when I began this book and met Joey, I was instantly invested in his story.
The thought of what he went through in the years he was held by the sick man who kidnapped him breaks my heart. While I know this is fiction, I just couldn’t stop thinking about all the children that live this type of reality. However, it’s not the sick acts that are the focus in Gene Gant’s story. Yes, we know they’ve happened but the focus is really on Adam and how he persevered while maintaining an innocent and gentle nature. That made his journey both sweet and sometimes heartbreaking.
His treatment by not only society but the police and criminal justice system realistically showed us how many of today’s minority youth are treated unfairly and unjustly in our Nation. However, it didn’t feel preachy or overly political like a lot of books I’ve read with similar themes. Whether it’s because it’s YA or not, I’m not positive, but either way, I liked the way it was presented to us. I would be quite interested in a follow up actually that might delve into the aftermath of what has happened to Adam or possibly more of Ms. Washington’s (Adam’s Attorney) clients. I can definitely picture Adam growing up to be an advocate for youth and working to change our treatment of minority youth offenders and or victims of kidnapping and human trafficking.
As for the rest of the characters in Golden Like Summer, I’m apprehensive about diving in too deep. I don’t want to spoil the story and give too much away but I would like to say that most of the adults in this book gave me pause. Some were meant to be despised which was easy to do. Others were, I’m sure, meant to show that kindness and good still exist, which made those people easy to love. Others, however, were more difficult and I changed my opinion on them more than once.
Overall, I can’t rave about this book enough. Gene Gant did such a wonderful job telling this story. It was such an emotional read yet one I could not put down. I highly recommend Golden Like Summer, just make sure you have a box of Kleenex handy.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Harmony Ink for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***