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.
©2012 J. P. Barnaby (P)2014 Dreamspinner Press
tearjerker, sweet, hopeful
The early sex scene between Spenser and the delivery guy
Great narration. The characters were distinct and their vocal idiosyncrasies fit my picture of the characters very well.
Spenser he's less damaged than Aaron and I get on well with deaf guys
Two years ago Aaron's life as he knew it ended when he and his best friend Juliet stopped to give directions to the men in the beat-up van that hailed them. Now Juliet is in the cemetery and most days Aaron wishes he was too. Instead he lives in state of near constant terror unable to look at his scarred face in the mirror or even shower his burned and scarred body without flashing back on the horrifying events of that day. His sleep is full of nightmares and even the slightest touch of his loving mother sends him into a downward spiral toward terror that only heavy doses of tranquilizers and anti-anxiety meds have seemed to make a dent in.
And yet when Aaron's mother pushes him to take a computer course at a community college, Aaron is forced to interact with Spencer, a deaf boy with issues of his own. Yet, somehow these two misfits find a way closer to normalcy through each other.
This story has its flaws and parts are just not credible (and for that I'm deducting a star) but somehow that soon doesn't matter as much as these two wounded souls charm their way into your heart. And it's not just the two protagonists. I love the relationship Aaron has with his mother. I love his two brothers I love Spenser's father. I've always had a thing for characters willing to let their vulnerability show and these characters are all vulnerable and endearing.
For a story that relies so much on psychology and the practice of psychiatry I felt that the details in this area were particularly weak but I really wanted to suspend disbelief, accept the inaccuracies and just move on to what has to be one of the most heart-rending stories I've read in a decade.
If you can manage to maintain that willing suspension of disbelief, this may well be one of those books that you love and read again and again. Perhaps its all those plaintive Simon & Garfunkel songs I was exposed to in my youth along with movies like Brian's Song or even books like Love Story, Death Be Not Proud and Thursday's Child, but I do love a good three hankie story and this is one of the best I've seen in yonks. Plus it has the added attraction of having a hopeful ending and a sequel that I can't wait to read, Spencer.
On an afternote... I listened to the audio-book version of this narrated by Tyler Stevens rather than reading the text version. Stevens did a great job with the narration and the voices of the main characters are easily distinguished and fit well with my conception of the characters. One strange thing I noted though was in an early sex scene between the deaf Spencer and a delivery man. Somehow hearing the inner monologue of a deaf man and his concerns in an audio format, while it sounds a bit twisted, actually made the eroticism of the scene really work well. It made for one of the hottest sex scenes I've encountered in a book this year.
I would recommend it to anyone who loves an angsty gay romance.
Extremely well written and researched. Strong family support. Both heartwarming and heart wrenching.
Excellent narrator. I would like to see him narrate more books in this genre as it has some really amateur "readers" with no range and no voice modulation. Stevens is a professional and very talented.
A tragic, yet loving and hopeful coming-of-age story brilliantly written by JP Barnaby. Details of the horrific assault that left his best friend dead and him a broken young man are sprinkled throughout so the listener is not traumatized with a single info dump. We experience the full brunt of the event upon Aaron over about a two month period. It's hard to listen to at times. He meets Spencer, who is deaf, in a college class and who is dealing with his own debilitating issues. They become an unlikely pair, bonding closely as time drifts by, shoring each other up and offering hope where none appeared possible just weeks prior. A wonderful story.
i like interesting books and my own life has been not the easiest. This book is so amazing and so heart braking. If you listen to it once you will miss alot the book will make you miss some things just do to the facts of how harsh the subject matter is.
picking between aaron and spencer is imposable 2 guys one born from tragic moment the other destroyed in an instant manage to pull them selfs up together i have been on audible for about a year i got this book a month ago and have no idea how many times i lessened to this book.This book should be read by anyone with family with PTSD you will get an understanding that your love one can tell you and it can teach you how to be how to help.
they audio talent is so good Spencer is deaf from birth and Tyler Stevens did an amazing job of doing the cadence changes and tones of alot of people i have meet over the years.
This book was hard on me i have PTSD myself and i have recommended it so much i hope the other books come to audio soon
This book is not for young ears it has some horrible flash backs.
Tyler's take on Spencer and Aaron.
The width and breadth of the triumph of love over heartache.
This is an absolutely amazing book. Amazing.
JP Barnaby manages to take an absolutely horrific event and funnel it through the mind of a teenager. Can you imagine? Being a teenager is hard enough as it is. Then add being a gay teenager, just coming into your own sexuality. Then add in a brutal, horrible attack that leaves you physically and emotionally scarred and your best friend, dead. It is incredible that Aaron had the will to live, and JP even explains HOW he manages to avoid suicide.
It is completely believable, and touching, and so, so painful, but sweet and hopeful at the same time. I couldn’t read/listen to it all at once. I had to take breaks, read lighter books in between. But when I got to the end, I said “I MUST read Spencer!” and started it immediately.
One of the things I absolutely found so powerful, was JPs ability to show us (without telling us) the areas where Aaron’s family – despite ALL their best intentions – were NOT helping him. She also showed us where the fact that he was a teenager (and thus prone to illogical thinking and hormone driven decision making) impacted his event even more so than it would have on an adult. Aaron lived through this event at such a pivotal time in his life and JP does an amazing job of showing us just how pivotal it was.
Then you have Spencer. (Sigh) I LOVE Spencer. I wish I KNEW Spencer, I would hug and love him up. Such a fantastic soul and such a huge heart. He takes on Aaron and sees through to the boy he is/could be and simply loves him. He has his own demons, and this makes him empathetic and vulnerable and wonderful It is a testament to the power of love in the act of healing. So very touching. I can’t say enough about how wonderful Spencer is.
JP also paints a detailed, if flawed, picture of Dr Thomas, Aaron’s parents/siblings, and all the other people in Aaron’s life. She is accurate down to her coding and tech-speak, but not didactic or pedantic.
It was a hard book to read/listen to, but so worth it.
I had not read any JP Barnaby books before this, but you can bet I am a fan for life now.
Tyler Stevens can read any book to me any day. He did such an amazing job with the language, the tonal qualities of Spencer’s speech. (Spencer was born deaf, but can and does speak throughout the story.) Tyler subtly changes the voice for all the characters in a way that is helpful to the story and not distracting in its “over acting”.
His reading pace is good, his voice quality clear, his emphasis on the dialog perfection.
I would specifically look for him as a narrator, he is that good. I really hope he reads Spencer when the audible version comes out.
I liked the audible version even better than the book (shocked gasp!). It was that good. Tyler just made me feel the characters in a way that when I went back to read the book, his intonations were what I heard.
I highly recommend this audio version, the book, the series, the author, the narrator.
Ok, I sound a little fan-girl, but really. Go now and buy them.
I would read this book again, because. There is a sense of clarity in this book that really can touch home for some people and I adore that type of sentiment when reading a good book.
The meaning of the story in General is what I loved about this book.
He really brought the characters alive with his story telling. Well done Tyler Stevens.
I think I would take Aaron's mother to dinner. It seems as though she would be the one that would need to talk openly to someone who is willing to listen without judgement.
If you want a good book to read, please get this book. It is a page turner and will keep your interest from start to finish. ENJOY!!!!!
Beautiful, heartbreaking story about recovery, patience and love. Not just between Aaron and Spencer, but Aaron and his family too and for Aaron to himself. This could be a difficult listen for PTSD patients, but it sounds like JP Barnaby did some research on therapy tips and for the deaf. Can't wait to hear the rest of Aaron and Spencer's story in "Spencer".
Aaron is the story of a courageous young man who experienced a traumatic attack that forever changed his world and his journey towards finding the ability to take back his life and find some sort of normalcy. A great read!
I really enjoyed his book. The storyline is not like any others. A lot of factors are involved. Hit THAT sweet spot as a person suffering from PTSD, and I'm gay. Good read can't wait to start book 2. Narrator was great! Hope they don't change him.
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