Title: Up!
Author: Al Stewart, Claire Davis
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Release Date: December 22nd 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 70
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

After a failed attempt at college, Luke lives a quiet existence with his Dad. He recovers from bitter disappointment and gradually life returns to a regular rhythm. Safe and predictable. Every day he gains confidence, but with health comes boredom. From the window ledge he watches people outside and wishes he could be like them.
There’s another side to Luke. Underneath his bed are five hidden pairs of jeans with matching Dr Martens – yellow – purple – striped – green, and tartan. Some days he feels the itch to get them out. Nope. Those days are gone.
One day, an amazing thing happens. Dynamic blog artist Formaldehyde Bob comes to town with an exhibition of light and dark! Luke has crushed on him since being fifteen, idolising the man and his unusual creations. Something about the art calls to Luke like nothing else, makes him believe there might after all be someone out there who thinks in the same way. A soul-mate. A bird with a similar song.
No. Luke isn’t going to go and see Formaldehyde Bob. He isn’t. Because he’s happy with his monotonous lot and doesn’t want to see hope sliding down a mountain of sand.
Will Luke take a chance and visit Formaldehyde Bob?
Can the jeans ever be worn again?
Does grumpy Barbara ever smile?
And the most important question: is there any magic left in the world?

Find out in this snowy tale of young love in the most unexpected places.

Content warning: references to self-harm, mental illness.

“Why aren’t there ever any ups for people like us? Once you break, melt and shut, what’s left?

This is a story of love and healing and struggling with mental illness, told in a very unique way. Full of symbolisms that so very much remind me the grittiness of Greek surrealism, Up! was quite a rollercoaster for me. It turned me inside out at first, made me hopeful and giddy later on, and in the end….it lifted me up! Literally!

Love might not be able to actually cure mental illness, but it can certainly do some healing. It can step inside the bottle and walk you out of it even for a while, or just sit right there with you so that you ‘re not alone. If there’s such thing as soul mates then Rob and Luke are definitely it. Not in the corny, sugary sweet way we ‘re used to in a lot of romantic stories. Luke and Rob are the perfect match in the most basic level, in the most perfect way. There was no other option for these two than to be together.

Once more, art plays a big role in the story. Art, much like love, heals wounds, right? I firmly believe that when two people speak the same language as far as art in concerned, they are definitely on the same page about pretty much everything else. Luke and Rob are the perfect example.

The ending is magnificent. Full of color and light and hope!

“We went into the bottle and came out, and now we’re going up in the air balloon. No more down. It’s time we went up, Luke.”

I know that people who are lost inside their head or feel overwhelmed and lost will empathize greatly with these characters. And maybe find a little bit of hope.

Favorite quote:

“When did humans get so fucked up that someone in pain is nobody’s business?

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Up! provided by Al Stewart and Claire Davis in exchange of an honest review.


Mother, wife, teacher and READER. I read MM almost exclusively. My kindle is my best friend and the most important thing in my life after my son. My poor husband... I read MM romance almost exclusively. As a reader I don't have any hard limits except incest. I like Contemporary and Historicals and I rarely read Paranormal unless recommended...
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