Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Aaron by J.P Barnaby

Reviewed by Hannah
Aaron by J.P Barnaby
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 238pgs
5 Pants Off

I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.

This book is simply stunning.

This is a story that is inarguably filled with pain and hurting that is beyond most peoples imagination, and I think we can all thank God for that, but this book evolves into something so much more than pain and trauma, it becomes one of beauty, peace and compassion.

The character of Aaron has been developed beautifully by J.P Barnaby. The story is gently unfolded before you as you piece together the events that have lead to this traumatised and broken young man struggling to just exist in a life that no longer feels like his. The harrowing and horrific pain that was inflicted upon him and his friend Juliette are delivered slowly to the reader, in the form of Aaron’s flashbacks, and gradually your tears will flow as you realise just what this young man is living with.

The fact that Barnaby doesn’t delve straight into Aaron’s attack is nothing short of a blessing on the reader. It’s not that his pain isn’t made clear from page one, but you are not crushed with the weight of his memories in an instant, you piece together the puzzle in parts, as Aaron faces each battle the day brings, allowing the reader time to come to terms with the traumas inflicted on him, creating even greater depth to his character.

The same can be said for Spencer. A character with his own daemons to battle, his own insecurities of the world to overcome, but who provides so much lightness in this book through the weight he helps lift off Aaron. Spencer’s deafness is written beautifully and you are given a clear picture of what his life is like in a world of no sound, and the struggles he must face. Inside his head, you learn of the normalcy that Spencer’s yearns for, for someone in the world to just see him and not his disability.

It is here, these wants, from both boys, that the most beautiful book I have ever read really blossoms. These boys both crave, but don’t know how to achieve, the same thing, a place in a world where they can be comfortable and where they can find acceptance, and they find just that in each other. Spencer’s reaction to his first meeting with Aaron is enough to show you the ability he could have to comfort Aaron, as he doesn't walk away full of judgments and ridicule at Aaron's obvious pain, he is full of nothing but concern and aching to help and understand the boy he scared the living daylights out of.

This book left me breathless. I went into it prepared for the heartache, the torture this story would inflict on my soul as I struggled to find a way to comfort Aaron from the safety and warmth of my living room, but I found I didn't need to comfort him, Spencer was there, by his side, and as you read on, you realize that Aaron not only has hope in the form of his best friend, but so do you as you start to breathe again, knowing Aaron has found someone who can bring him back to life.

Every character in this book is so lovingly and beautifully constructed that even though the pain is screaming at you from every angle, the pain of that horrific night, the pain of a family barely functioning, in both of the boy’s households, I hope you find, as I did, that the love screams at you even louder. You are given the time to understand each characters own struggles to overcome the earth shattering events in their lives. The bond shown between Aaron and his brothers, even under such strain is enough to warm your heart, even before you can see any light in Aaron’s life. The pain of a mother who can’t touch or comfort her son is overpowering, but incredibly moving for the reader, as you grasp how much lies ahead for this family to struggle through.

Spencer’s father in this book, along with his son, offers the chance of a future. Although Spencer struggles with his own issues and worries in regards to his fathers drinking, he still sees the ability to help Aaron in letting his father reach out to him, and as this new character relationship blossoms, between Aaron and Dr Thomas, it allows for Spencer and Aaron’s relationship to move forward.

The beauty in their friendship is enough to make your heart ache. As they communicate through IMing and email, you can see the walls break down on both sides and the light the shines through both of them. Each giggle or laugh that erupts from Aaron will make you want to weep with joy, and the reader will realize  probably long before he does, that he is still alive, and he is still capable of seeing and finding love in the world.

I wish I could find the words to adequately describe how much this book will warm your soul. It will be some of the worst pain you could ever read about, but it will also be one of the greatest example of love, understanding and acceptance that will leave you blissfully peaceful with the hope that beyond the pages of this book, Aaron’s world will once again be one filled with nothing but enough safety, comfort and love that he will always find the strength to fight the storms.

The pain in this book defiantly has the ability to haunt you, but I found, by the end, the examples of love and tenderness are enough to heal you, and leave you with a warm smile on your face (and possibly tears in your eyes).

5 Pants Off

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful review. How can anyone NOT want to read this amazing book. Thank you J.P. Hannah and Darien :-)


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