Sean must have thought that nothing else could go wrong, after his son disappeared, but this was just the start of his nightmare. When he was called to say his son was missing, he did what his ex-wife wanted and left Austin at their house.
When Jason is found, he is left at a hospital, but is becomes apparent to the staff that he has been cruelly abused, both sexually and physically. They also realise that he has become mute due to what has happened to him.
Now is when the nightmare continues for Sean and Austin. Due to some homophobic people, Sean has his visitation rights cancelled, and cannot see his son. He goes home and takes all his frustrations out on Austin, and I have to say I felt so sorry for Austin.
I think Sean incorrectly thought that it would not affect Austin, but he was. Austin loves Jason, and spending time with him, and as things go from bad to worse, he is then subjected to comments and being blanked at work, which Sean just dismissed. I got rather angry with Sean at this point, as he seemed to be wallowing in his own self pity.
You soon realise who the culprit is in this book, but just as soon realise that he has scared Jason so much, that he won't say a word. You also see more of the abuse that Jason's mum endures, both at the hands of her husband but also her own mother.
I am not going to spoil this for others, but you will be taken on a roller coaster ride, and maybe even sometimes not believe what you are reading. You would think that things like this couldn't happen but sadly this is not the case, but in no way is this book glamorising things, you get the full picture of how everyone is affected.
This was quite the emotional read, as you clearly saw how everybody was affected. Not all Seans decisions were the right ones, but you could fully understand why he did what he did. Was he able to reconcile with Austin? Was he able to visit Jason? Did they finally get the culprit??
A Guest Post by Rick R. Reed
In the book, I describe Summitville like this:
As Sean drove through the streets of Summitville, with their curves and rises as the concrete mapped out a destination on the hills, he could not help but think what a contrast the little city presented: the beauty of the hills, rising up above the town, tree-covered, the Ohio River twisting through its valley, all scarred by the evidence of human habitation. The houses perched, clinging to the hillsides, most of them in need of paint or repair, the rusting carcasses of cars littering many of the driveways. People, too poor to afford air conditioning, sat on front porch stoops fanning themselves, staring dumbly at the traffic passing their homes. Sean wondered why he even bothered to live there. He was a good, if not great, writer, passable enough to maybe not write the great American novel as he had once dreamed of doing, but adequate enough to at least work at a larger newspaper in someplace like Pittsburgh or maybe even Chicago. But he knew the reason he stayed. And it was not because his roots were here. Nor was it because of Austin, whom he had once figured would be happy to pull up stakes and follow him anywhere. Nor was it because of his job, which valued his writing ability at the majestic sum of $32,000 per year.
No, he stayed because of Jason. To be near his little boy. The only child he would ever have. He wanted to watch his son grow up, to shepherd him to adulthood, to make sure he grew up compassionate
An article on rustwire(dot)com East Liverpool and the Unforgiving Economy of Rural Appalachia, (from 2014) describes East Liverpool today sadly, yet accurately. Just a disclaimer - this little town is where my roots and most of my family and some dear old friends are, so I do not mean to disparage, but only to illuminate my inspiration for the fictional town of Summitville.
About 100 miles Southeast of Cleveland, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, along the Ohio River sits the small city of East Liverpool, Ohio. Once known as the pottery capitol of the world, many of the China and glassware factories have closed, as have the steel mills where many East Liverpool residents once worked. In its heyday during World War II, almost 50,000 people lived in East Liverpool. Today the cities population tops off at just above 10,000.
Nearly 30 percent of all residents live below the poverty level. The per capita income is just more than $16,000. The unemployment rate is 13 percent. It is a city where almost every second or third house seems to be abandoned, and not just abandoned. Some are burnt out. Some are falling down. The locals talk about the incessant and merciless drug traffic. They say dealers have come up to the city from the east coast - having found a robust market for heroin and other opiates. The drug trade wreaks constant havoc on the streets. In late September, five people were shot there in a single night.