Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he’s tall and thin) is bullied for being “deformed”—he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can’t defend one another from their abusive parents.
When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father's anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again. In his search, he will encounter good people, bad people, and people who are simply indifferent to kids from the wrong side of the tracks. But he never loses hope of finding love—and his brother.
The experience of reading this book is the equivalent of riding an emotional rollercoaster—and I mean this in the the absolute best way. I made the mistake of choosing to read this book in the Macmillan offices, one day on the internship, and I found it a serious challenge to hold in my tears. This is a story that is just so tragic, so heartbreaking, so gritty and hard and painful, but Smith writes this all so beautifully and in a way that is, thankfully, ultimately hopeful. What it really comes down to is that I think everyone should read this book, and that everyone will be a better person for it.
Review copy from publisher Macmillan