Title: Abandoned, Little Boy Lost Series #2
Author: J.P. Barnaby
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Buy link: Amazom.comAmazon
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Length: Novel (200 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
In a nutshell: Brian McAllister endures his senior year of high school without his best friend and lover, Jamie, at his side.
>>>This review contains spoilers for the first book in the series, Enlightened.<<<
Jamie is gone.
Brian’s secret has been revealed.
Brian McAllister’s story continues as he tries to cope with the loss of his best friend and soul mate amid the alienation and ridicule of his classmates. When hatred turns to violence, Brian narrows his focus to two goals: surviving and finding Jamie. Along the way he meets Adam, whose life has also been shattered by violence and cruelty. Can Adam fill the hole in Brian’s life left by Jamie’s absence? The answer will change everything.
The is the second book in the Little Boy Lost Series, which is the story of Brian McAllister, “the boy next door.” I reviewed the first book, Enlightened, twice: first as a self-published book and then in its new incarnation with Dreamspinner. I enjoyed Enlightened a great deal and I like Abandoned, too, but I have to be honest—it’s not an easy read with a very uncertain ending and future for Brian.
The story opens about three weeks after Enlightened ends. The school year has started. Jamie is gone, having been ripped out of Brian’s life when his parents up and moved to California after discovering the two of them sleeping together. Their love, and the fact that Brian is gay, is now common knowledge in the school. Brian is prepared for a year of taunting and bullying; unfortunately, within a very short time he gets it worse than he ever expected.
Brian is attacked—twice. The second time is so violent that he ends up in a coma with several broken bones, including his leg and jaw. He has a long recuperation, during which time he is able to develop a close, trusting relationship with Kyle Barnes, the art teacher. His foster parents, the Schreibers, also step up to take on the role of true loving parents. Once he’s back on his feet, Brian starts taking self-defense classes and develops two more strong friendships: with his Sensei and another student, Adam.
In other words, after a life of hardship and misery, some of the pieces finally start falling into place for Brian and he begins to believe that it is possible to be happy.
Meanwhile, what about Jamie? He seems to have evaporated off the earth. Brian tries to track him down through Google and his foster father, Richard, gives him a hand but they don’t have any success. The nagging question is, why doesn’t Jamie get in touch? He knows Brian’s address and phone number. Even if his parents have him under lock and key, couldn’t he manage to snag an envelope and a stamp? Or find a pay phone and make a collect call? These thoughts sneak into Brian’s mind but he tries not to dwell on them, preferring to believe in their love and their bond as soulmates. I have my suspicions as to what is going on with Jamie, but nothing is revealed in this story.
The story presented itself in two fairly distinct parts. The first 40% covered the beginning of the school year, the attacks, and Brian’s convalescence. It was very angsty and there was one episode that was very, very hard to read. The second part, once he’s out of his cast and back to school gets better—and things do get better for Brian. He’s a good kid and it’s nice to see good things happening to him. Of course there’s always the over-arching, “Where’s Jamie?” issue but by and large, Brian is able to eke out a few happy moments in his life.
But then we come to the gut-wrenching, heart-ripping-out ending. If you’ve read the first book, you know the author likes to leave things with a cliff-hanger. Get ready for cliff-hanger #2 and let me tell you, this one makes the first book look like a walk through the park! I finished the book being worried and upset for everybody: the Schreibers, Adam, Brian, Kyle, Sensei…even Jamie, who’s still off page even at the end.
This is book two of a planned six book series and I have a feeling that we readers will have to go through a whole lot more angst before we get to a happy ending—if we do—or learning what form that happy ending will take. The author has set it up so that the story could go in any number of directions so it will be interesting to see how this narrative evolves and matures.
As an aside, the first book had quite a bit of explicit sex but this book has much less because Jamie’s not there and Brian is faithful to him. There are a few scenes of Brian fantasizing about Jamie and masturbating plus a chaste kiss with Adam, but that’s about it. It’s a definite change from Enlightened.
Could this be read as a standalone? I suppose so—backstory is offered so the reader knows what is going on—but why? The whole focus of the first book was the developing relationship between Brian and Jamie and that was beautifully written. Why cheat yourself of that experience only to read about their heartbreaking aftermath in Abandoned?
Overall, recommended. I’m committed to this series and looking forward to the third book, Vanished, which is due out in the summer. The synopsis for that is at the end of Abandoned and sounds intriguing, but I will be honest—I’ll be wearing my angst-armor and have a box of tissues at my side. I offer the same advice for reading Abandoned. You’ve been warned!