Story Ballads, Book 2
He risks his life and finds his heart.
Kyle is a swaggering bully; Lenny strives to be invisible.
Kyle has been left alone in the world; Lenny is the world’s biggest loner.
When Kyle saves Lenny from drowning, their lives will never be the same.
After a brutal encounter with school bullies, Lenny swims out into the ocean, determined to let the current whisk him away. Next thing he knows the meanest kid in town is pulling him from the waves, promising to be his Dead Sea, and to never let him sink.
All Kyle wants is to get out of beach cleanup, is that too much to ask? So he goes for a swim, only to come upon the most epic loser in the senior class drowning in a riptide. Lenny’s haunted gaze grips him, and Kyle makes the impulsive decision to save his life or die trying. Through this ordeal, Kyle and Lenny are transformed.
Kyle’s heroic act sets him on the straight and narrow, and he opens his heart to the young man he dragged from the ocean. Lenny changes too but is still unable to reveal the truth of his pain. While drowning in a sea of secrets, the reformed bully and wary victim fall in love. But staying afloat in the Dead Sea is not as simple as it seems.
My ass is getting numb from zoning out for so long on the couch in front of the boob tube. I crack a smile. It’s what you used to call the TV, Grampa. Remember? Not that it’s got boobs—I’d have surely noticed that, seeing as most nights I stare at the damn thing until my eyes go blurry.
I pop open the bag of Ruffles I found on top of the fridge—you can’t hide junk food from this dude—and stick my bare feet on the coffee table. Mom would kick them off, her big feet wedged into a pair of clunky boots with lugged soles that always leave a mark. She’s not here, though, so I might as well make myself comfortable.
I didn’t want to sneak into the dumb gay bar with those assholes, anyhow. But would it have killed them to ask me if I was up for it? Nope—that didn’t happen. The three fuckin’ musketeers, my ass. Sisti and Zane snuck off with two hot sophomore girls without a word. So, this guy’s parked in front of the boob tube. Like, again.
Makes sense no girl will come near me, though. They smell my meanness from a mile away. Can’t say as I blame them—my own mother smells my meanness and steers clear. But shit, I can’t get a date to save myself.
I stuff a handful of chips into my pie hole and savor the salt and grease. They taste almost too good—I haven’t had a bite to eat since noon when I swiped the school lunch of some dweeb who dared to wear jeans that made him look like he was waiting for a flood. The loser should’ve come to school in pants that hit his damn ankles—he might’ve escaped my attention.
And another fist full of chips…down the hatch.
My best pals bailed on me tonight—I would’ve been a total fifth wheel. You used to tell me with friends like Sisti and Zane I didn’t need no enemies. Whatevs.
I only give about half a shit I couldn’t find a girl to go out with tonight. None of the babes Gil and Damon drool over do it for me. Sure, they’re hot—sweet smelling with painted-on jeans and I’m-all-that smiles. There’s just something I want to see in their eyes that’s not there. Could be because most girls are always glaring at me in that stay-the-hell-away-from-me-you-caveman way. Or it could be the other thing…
Yup, the thing I’ve never admitted to nobody. Never even told you, Gramps, about how I sometimes get hot for the look in certain dudes’ eyes. Grampa didn’t need to know that shit—it’s TMI, for sure. And it’s not like I stand a chance with the smart quiet types of guys I’m into.
I lean back on the ancient couch in our living room for my third episode of Cops. Lucky me, tonight’s a Cops marathon. Hope like hell I’m never one of the bad boys on it.
4 of 5 Stars
This is a relatively endearing story about embracing your true self.
Kyle is angry. As a defense for being treated poorly by his mom and his anger at what happened with his grandfather, he’s mean to other people. Deep down, he’s just hurt and lonely. Unfortunately, it takes a near tragedy for him to find a true friend, admit to his sexuality, and become a better person on the outside. He’s a true softy and sweet boy when shown love.
Lenny is confused. He doesn’t understand why he does the things he does and instead of asking for help, he tries to permanently escape. Thankfully for him, Kyle doesn’t give up easily when he sets his mind to something. He is a bit snarky and has a fun personality when he’s with someone who accepts and loves him.
This is not only a coming-of-age story but one of self-acceptance and growth.
I liked the story quite a bit but there are times when it’s a bit repetitive and long…so I skimmed some. Overall, this is another good, solid story from Ms. Kerick.
About the Author
Award-winning gay romance author, Mia Kerick, knows that a satisfying romance novel is riddled with challenges. For true love to prevail, the leading men are gonna have to put in some effort. But the HEA is oh-so rewarding.
Mia has a great affinity for the damaged teenage soul in literature. Her YA gay contemporary romance focuses on such tropes as hurt/comfort and dark secrets that keep them apart. In Kerick’s books, the course of true love never does run smooth.
Mia’s books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine. They have won a 2019 IPPY GOLD award for Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction, a 2018 YA GOLD MOONBEAM Children’s Book Award, a YA Readers’ Favorite Award, several Gold Rainbow Awards in YA and adult categories, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, a YA Indie Fab Award, a First Place Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, a First Place Story Monsters Purple Dragonfly Award, and more.
Mia cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.