Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: GLBT, Relationships, Overcoming Fear, Terrorism
Age Range: 8th Grade and Above
Summary: (from Goodreads)
It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.
Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he’ll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.
Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.
I will admit that I have pretty much avoided any books, fiction or non, that have dealt with 9/11 and its aftermath. To be honest, I'm not sure that I will every be ready to read accounts, real or otherwise, of that period in America history. It's not that I'm uniformed-I can listen to the analysis and read about the political/cultural forces that led to the attack, as well as the response of our government afterwards-but reading about what people who were involved went through and the devastating effect it had on their lives leaves me shaky and teary-eyed.
For that reason I almost didn't read this book. Despite the fact that the main context is the D.C. Sniper murders, I kept picking it up and putting it down again. What finally made me choose it from my (full to overflowing) shelf of young adult novels comes down to sheer vanity...I like being the go-to person for my friends and the youth I work with for the best in young adult novels dealing with LGBT themes. In this case, vanity was a good thing! This was definitely one of the best YA books I've read this year.
I felt very unsettled while reading the book, which I hold up as a testament to the author's ability to accurately capture the mood in Washington, D.C. during the sniper scare. The general mood of anxiety, dread, and confusion was perfectly mirrored in the way that Craig and Lio felt as they tried to navigate not just the external world, but their own emotional landscape. Both of them had been scarred in some way, Lio very specifically by the events of 9/11 and his mother leaving the family, and Craig by his ex-boyfriend's mental breakdown. Both boys felt as though the foundation on which they'd built their lives was shaky, much like we all felt a bit shaky in the year or so after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Basic assumptions they (and we) had made about what was safe and stable in our lives had been called into question. In fact, it was sometimes uncomfortable to read this book. Moskowitz did such a good job drawing me into the emotional lives of these two boys that I'd find myself, like them, feeling restless and unsettled while I was reading, but in a way that enhanced the story, rather than diminishing it. I think this novel is excellent, and I could see it being used in a high school history class as a way to draw students into the way society responded and changed after 9/11.