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After running away from the hatred and abuse of their teen years, Sean and Gavin have been hustling to survive for too long now. When some extra cash lands them alone in a hotel room until Christmas, they can no longer deny their feelings for each other. Now neither one can imagine watching the other walk off with one more trick. Even with no money and no job prospects, Sean is determined to not just show Gavin what a real home and holiday is like, but to keep them off the streets for good and build a life together.
I tend to be more discerning about what makes the cut for my holiday reading list than my non-holiday reading list. Before I swipe the first page on my iPad, I want a fair amount of confidence that the book is not going to ruin my holiday spirit with a lack luster read. My holiday literary escapes need to fulfill two main requirements:
1. It has to be around 100 pages or less. With a house full of family and a busy festivities schedule, I don’t have much time to get wrapped up in a literary epic that wars with my real life to monopolize me. Nice, easy reads for a brief escape serve me well during December.
2. Evoke the feel good spirit of the season. I am not sure if Hood has started to pump the endless supply of eggnog with estrogen, but the way my sappy, charitable self emerges you’d think I must be on something. I like a dose of sweet. I like a dose of sappy. But even more so, I like the books that transform despair into hope and elevate those in need to be able to succeed.
Something to Believe In checks off both boxes and then some. It is the story of two homeless men (barely men – boys really) who form a friendship to survive on the streets and a pact to eventually leave them. Not sure what is going on with the sexy well toned man on the cover, but don’t be deceived there are no high end rent boys here. Gavin and Sean lead lives of kneeling on bathroom floors and high risks of getting into strangers SUV’s just to get money for lunch. But they have had enough of their hand to mouth existence of prostitution, cold nights, hungry bellies and close calls and decide to make a play to get themselves to a place where lives are worth living.
For a novella, Parker does well capturing the daily despair and degradation these boys face while delivering a happy ending that is in line to what two homeless boys (with help) could realistically achieve to begin their advance to normality. But the lesson isn’t so much in whether they are able to trade in their hustling days for ones toiling at a minimum wage job. It is in their ability to have hope that they can make that career change, find strength in each other to do so and the understanding that accepting help from others should add more to their pride than detract from it.
Well written, with observant analogies, such as Gavin describing a Salvation Army bell ringer’s charity pot as a “bucket of guilt” and tastefully scribed lines that capture the depth of the scene:
It’s amazing what silence will do for a moment.
I couldn’t stop scrubbing my face, like I could erase what I’d become if I just tried a little harder.
Sloane Parker doesn’t sugar coat the unfortunate luck of Gavin and Sean‘s lives, but sprinkles just enough confection on the top to make their HFN palatable for everyone. Something to Believe In checked the boxes of my holiday reading requirements and even left me wanting more of Gavin and Sean’s story. Mixing the right dose of sweet, a touch of gritty and equal parts despair and hope, Parker delivers a holiday nugget for all appetites.