Book Reviews

Aaron by J.P. Barnaby at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Erotic Romance / Drama
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 12-February-2013

Book Blurb

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.


Book Review

One of the biggest challenges a mother has to face is to stand back and watching her children struggle to solve their own problems. We want to step in and make it all better like we did when they were little, but if we do, the child will never grow up, never be the person he was meant to be. In 'Aaron' by J.P. Barnaby, Aaron's mother wants to help her son, who, because of a vicious attack, has been reduced to a child-like state; this thrusts her back in the role of caring for him as she did when he was little. She becomes 'Mommie' again. She keeps Aaron going physically, but what she most wants to do is take away his pain and make him whole again. No one can do that for Aaron; he has to do it for himself.

Aaron, once handsome, popular, compassionate, and successful with a bright future, is reduced to a terrified, sad, depressed, emotionally numb person who has lost hope. Due to the vicious nature of the attack, Aaron is plagued by survivor's guilt, post traumatic stress episodes, anxiety attacks, paranoia, and severe depression. One of the things that keeps him alive is the agony that his family would have to endure if he were to end his life. His mother refuses to give up on him, even though he seems to be making little or no progress; Aaron loves his mother so much and appreciates what she does for him. He works hard not to cause her any more pain by trying to cooperate. Aaron will do anything he can for his mother. She is his bright light in an otherwise bleak existence. Aaron pushes himself as far as he can, i.e., being home schooled to finish high school and, eventually, taking a college class. Aaron knows that on some level, his mother will always be there for him. Still, Aaron feels like a colossal failure and disappointment and blames himself for things that he has absolutely no control over. He would love to be the boy he was before the attack—a hero to his little brothers, the pride and joy to his parents, and best friend to Juliette, but he realizes that that Aaron is gone forever. Until he meets Spencer and, ultimately his father, Dr. Thomas, both of whom can see beyond the scars, Aaron can't even find the tunnel, much less the light at the end of it. They inspire him to find a new normal, in whatever form that may take.

Spencer is as close to perfect as anyone could be for Aaron. Spencer is deaf; he understands how it feels to be different, isolated; Spencer is lonely, aching in fact, for human touch, a kind word, some form of appreciation. Although his introduction into the story is quite harsh, the example vividly explains how far he has to go from who he truly is, to even have a brief sense of intimacy. The truth is, Spencer feels even more alone in a crowd because people ignore, ridicule, or pretend he isn't there. They equate deafness and his lack of ability to communicate with having a lower intellect. When Spencer meets Aaron, he's found someone with whom he has common ground. Spencer didn't know Aaron before the attack, so he has no expectations for him except for the present. Aaron has no past to live up to. Spencer and Aaron are clean slates for each other. Spencer can get closer to Aaron than even his family can because there is no sense of failure.

This is not a light, breezy romance by any means. It's a brutal look at how our lives can be completely changed in a flash and the repercussions of such an event. It's also a beautiful, bittersweet tale of a mother's love for her son and his for her. It's a story about one young man being brave enough to forge ahead regardless; to gather the shattered, nearly obliterated pieces of his life, heart, and soul because: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king's horses and all the kings men, couldn't put Humpty together again.” Only Aaron can. Thank you, J.P., for a heartbreaking, but brilliant story of tragedy, hope, and love.





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Additional Information

Format ebook, print and audio
Length Novel, 238 pages/80677 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-October-2012
Price $6.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback, $16.99 bundle, $19.95 audiobook
Buy Link