Book Reviews

Black Sheep: Loving in the Present (Black Sheep 2) by Kia Zi Shiru

Genre Contemporary / Young Adult / Gay Fiction
Reviewed by Alex on 17-March-2013

Book Blurb

Vic has taken a turn for the worse and is back in the psychiatric hospital. Jack gets kicked out of his house when his parents find out that he is gay. The reason Adam is not getting better is revealed. And that is just the beginning.

Everybody is lost and trying to not let it spiral out of control. Jack moves in with Vic’s family, making it his temporary home until he can move in with his brother and sister. Vic’s health doesn’t improve until he hears about Adam, at which point he put his mind to getting better. Adam on the other hand is fighting his own feelings about Vic’s illness and questions their friendship.

When Vic and Jack visit Adam and Tom for Tom's birthday, it seems like a great way to let loose, but Vic is hiding more secrets than anyone knew and when they are exposed the situation explodes. Vic storms off in anger and seeks solace in dangerous places and, unknowingly, putting not just himself, but Jack too at risk

Book Review

The second book of Kia Shiru’s Black Sheep Trilogy series is a gutsy, angst-filled homage to the inner pain and futility that seem insurmountable when struggling teens approach that which society deems as the end of teen-hood and the start of adulthood. Not for the faint of heart, the book continues the story of long-time Goth, Vic, and his new “Goth for you” boyfriend, Jack, in a voice far different from that of the initial story. I recommend that those who have not read the first book do so before reading this one, while it will make this one that much more heart-wrenching, I believe that is the point.

Although the blurb warned me that Vic had taken a turn for the worse, I was still taken off guard, finding myself in the waiting room of a hospital at the start of the book. Five months after the events of the last story, Vic has tried to kill himself. The journey as to how this has happened is the story that fills this book's pages. Told in a series of ever shifting, morose and intimate first person point of views, through the eyes of Jack, ex-boyfriend Adam, Vic himself, his mom, and other friends, the story brought out emotions within me that I’d forgotten I’d ever experienced. And this is why I feel that although it is a tough read, this is an important book.
Too often deep pain and inner turmoil once passed is pushed to a place of ether; we remember the fear to re-experience it, but like a common cold… until you are there once more, you forget how much you hate not being able to breathe freely. Kia Shiru has bravely tackled bringing that turmoil, confusion, apathy, and futile pain to life, forcing the reader to remember and in doing so… to understand what some of today's teens are going through. Reminiscent of Girl Interrupted or Manic, her story questions how do you help those that cannot help themselves? How can you help them see that they are able to help themselves? How do you help them turn “I cannot” into “I can.”

While this book does not provide the answers to those questions, it reminds us that adulthood is something we, as a society, made up. The road to adulthood is long and fraught with painful choices. This book reminds those of us who have managed to navigate the waters to some type of adulthood, not to forget a time when we too…were lost, and to have compassion for those of us struggling with the journey. In my opinion this book is a strong, necessary read which I feel should be on the shelves of every high school library and a must-read for anyone attempting to shed light on the enigmatic mind of a struggling teen.

Thank you, Kia Shiru, I look forward to the next book in this series.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novella, 91 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 09-February-2013
Price $2.94 Kindle, $7.99 paperback
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