Title: The Bravest Thing
Author: Laura Lascarso
Release Date: April 17, 2017
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.
Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.
Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?
The story of Hiro and Berlin pretty much gutted me. It's hard reading about addiction, abuse and homophobia. Reading about people so young and innocent facing these things was even harder. This story was very emotional at times and I had to keep putting it down in order to wipe away the tears. However, I would immediately pick it right back up.
Berlin Webber is your all-American Texas teenager. His hopes for College someday rest in his chances of a football scholarship, his best friend Trent is a raging homophobe and his girlfriend Kayla is saving herself for marriage. Of course, that's a good thing since he's not so sure girls really do it for him anyway. When a new kid shows up at school Berlin realizes pretty fast that he's probably gay.
Hiro is in Lowry to make a fresh start. Newly out of rehab and his abusive boyfriend out of the picture, Hiro just hopes to get through high school. Lowry isn't exactly gay friendly, though and immediately, Hiro finds himself targeted by Trent and the rest of the football bullies. The only bright spot in his life is Berlin, even if they have to keep their new found friendship and budding romance secret.
The bullying continues to escalate and Trent starts suspecting more between Hiro and Berlin. When Hiro is attacked, the boys world is turned upside down and everything is forever changed, including their relationship. Lowry is no longer the same place for Berlin and what if there is no Hiro beside him?
So, this book definitely has some sweet moments but I found myself waiting for the bad stuff to happen right from the beginning. The anticipation of how the people in town were going to behave had my stomach in knots at times. Between all the homophobic bullies at the school, the abusive football coach and the pastor who thought he could help people pray away the gay, I was prepared for something horrific to happen. I hated knowing that someone as good as Berlin would face that kind of hatred.
Berlin was beyond sweet, he was genuinely a good person. He is the kind of guy you know will grow up to be a good man. He was in such a hard place, trying to figure out and admit his sexuality and also focus on his dreams for the future. Even as he kept his relationship secret it was easy to understand his reasons. I never got that anger at him for being a coward because, in this case, it really could have been a matter of life and death.
Hiro was more broken, his innocence lost at the hands of his ex, Seth, who not only abused him physically and emotionally but also provided him drugs after essentially getting him addicted to them. Hiro is openly gay and is Japanese, which puts a target on his back in Lowry and everyday he faces bullying by the boys at school. He knows what a disaster Berlin will wind up facing if anyone finds out he's gay and he doesn't want to see that happen to him.
Trent, ugh, I loathe Trent. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil things but basically Trent is the stereotypical hater and bully. I truly saw him one day ending up in prison after the first chapter. He and Seth should be dropped on a deserted island somewhere. Obviously, I hated Seth as well.
Because this is more of a YA/NA novel, the sexual tension and chemistry is there and it's great but the sex is minimal. With the subject matter, it really was not needed. It made the more intimate scenes between Hiro and Berlin all that more endearing and I loved them together. The author captured both boys so well and it felt real and natural. I think this was a beautifully written story and I am definitely interested in seeing more from her.
I highly recommend The Bravest Thing.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement.
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