Book Reviews

Lost & Found Anthology, edited by Kris Jacen at MLR Press

Genre Contemporary / Young Adult / Gay Fiction
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 26-May-2013

Book Blurb

Some statistics say that 40% of all homeless teens are GLBT. They’re on the streets after their families have thrown them away, told them that they don’t matter, that they’re not normal. Well, guess what? Those families are wrong. This collection of stories by ten talented authors spans the spectrum (historical, paranormal, transgender, cutter, gay) to show that – it’s okay, there are people out there that care, and these teens are perfect just the way they are.

All royalties from this anthology are being donated to Lost-n-Found Youth in Atlanta, Georgia. A wonderful charity working with these teens, helping them find their new place and get on their feet.


The authors donating their royalties to this worthy cause are Dakota Chase, DC Juris, Jeff Erno, Tabatha Heart, Caitlin Ricci, Diana Adams, DH Starr, Michele L. Montgomery, MF Kays and T.A. Webb. We thank them one and all.


Book Review

The stories in 'Lost and Found' put teens in situations which they would never have dreamed they would find themselves. Quite a few of the stories are interconnected showing characters at different stages in their lives; some also incorporate other protagonists who are introduced in their own tales cementing them together which gives the whole book a greater sense of unity and purpose. I feel this is quite an ambitious undertaking and applaud the authors on a job well done. It's an eclectic mix from paranormal to contemporary, all incredibly touching, heartbreaking, eye opening, and hopeful—designed to help show that there are ways out of the horrid position teens who are thrown away are forced into. I'd like to suggest reading the stories below with a box of tissues by your side because if it doesn't move you to tears to read stories of these brave kids who struggle to maintain a modicum of self respect after their parents, friends, and others close to them have told them they are worthless, then nothing ever will.

Bridges and Angels by MF Kays
Gipson is lost and alone; rejected by his parents for being gay. He's also carrying the burden of guilt for what happened when he kissed his boyfriend, Aaron. With some supernatural help, Gipson not only finds redemption but is set on a more positive path.

Gipson's guilt was understandable and made my heart ache. Although it wasn't reasonable way to predict what happened when they were outted, Gipson felt responsible. Since a message from Aaron was the only way Gipson could find redemption, the use of the supernatural was a unique and effective choice. 

A Ghost of a Chance by Diane Adams
Disillusioned and disgusted by the reactions of his family and friends when he came out, Carter Evan ran away to find a place to end his life. He thinks he's alone but isn't. Phillip, who is similar to a guardian angel, is there. Phillip was kicked out for being gay as well. Together, they experience an alternate reality where things are wonderful and it gives Carter pause. Phillip will be in his heart forever.

This story has a supernatural twist to it which enables Carter, a despondent young man who is contemplating suicide, that there is another path in life for him, a brighter future. It not only gives him hope; it also brings him love.

A Chance with a Ghost by T.A. Webb
This story picks up where the previous one left off but, this time, it's from Phillip's unseen companion, John's point of view. John is an extension of Phillip who holds all the good things about him. John has the same surreal experience that the other two boys have. John will do anything for Phillip, including ceasing to exist. Fortunately, Carter's elder brother finds him before he dies.

An extension of 'A Ghost of a Chance' by Diane Adams, it completes Carter's story. The concept of how John came to be and the solution to Phillip and Carter's problem of how an unsubstantial being and a mortal was both compelling and innovative.

Protective Instincts by Tabatha Heart
Blake and Davin are two young men in love. They are also werewolf shifters. Blake's father is beta of his pack and Davin's mother is also a werewolf shifter, but a mean, physically abusive, alcoholic. The boys continue their relationship even though it's forbidden. His mother finds out and  rejects Davin. In order to be together, they must find a way around the pack rules that say two men can't be mates.

This is a shifter story where two young werewolf shifters find love but are hindered by the dictates of their society. Not giving up easily, they fight for their right to be together, regardless of the consequences. Love will always find a way.

Blessing by Dakota Chase
Simon Angel was taken in by Brother Clavin, an evangelist, as an infant. When he discovers that Simon has the gift of healing, he's ecstatic, thinking only of how he can use Simon for financial gain. People came from miles around to be cured. There is one boy in particular whose twisted foot Simon heals, Jerico Falcone, who had the purest soul Simon had ever seen and Simon never forgot him. When Simon finally rebels and runs away, he ends up at Jerico's house and they soon fall in love. One problem is how to keep their love a secret and stay together. Their other problem is the constant fear that Brother Clavin will hunt Simon down.

'Blessing' combines two of my favorite genres—historical and supernatural. I admired Simon because of his ethics in choosing who would or would not receive his gift of healing depending upon the purity of their soul. I also applaud him for his strength of character. To be able to endure the abuse he did and be able to love with all his heart is quite a feat.

The Preacher’s Son by Caitlin Ricci
Clay goes to his sister's house when he gets kicked out of his home for telling his parents he's gay. When he goes to school, he decides not to hide that he's gay. He meets a boy named Zeke, whose father happens to be a minister. They strike up a friendship which quickly becomes more, but their relationship is fraught with problems and setbacks. Zeke is scared both of his feelings and what everyone will say when he comes out to them which is a big problem because Clay doesn't want their love to be a secret.

I was touched by the sweetness of Zeke and Clay's love. The tale does an excellent job of expressing the angst involved in being a gay teen. I also appreciated the positive aspects of the story, i.e., their friends and Zeke's parents' reactions.

Clay Rocks by T.A. Webb
'Clay Rocks' continues Clay's story, but focuses on his sister, Sarah. Sarah has never gotten along with her controlling parents and them putting her sixteen-year-old little brother out on the streets, she cuts all ties with them. The bone of contention between Sarah and her parents is that she's dating a black man named Jess. That's why she left home. Prejudice comes in many forms, but being who you are and being with the one you love is more important than anything else. With that, you can face the bigotry and hate with strength.

'Clay Rocks' continues Clay's story, but focuses not only on the gay aspect, but in on prejudice in general since his sister is dating a black man. It reminds us that the people who hate you without knowing you are wrong. We should never let others dictate who we can love regardless of their reasons.

Sam I Am by Jeff Erno
When Sam utters two words: “I'm gay,” his life is inexplicable changed. After church people take him away, against his will, he escapes and keeps running. There's one bright spot in his life, Cody, the young man he's in love with. When Cody is hurt, Sam enlists help from Greg, the local youth minister.  Greg sees how much  Sam cares for Cody and formulates a plan to get both of them off the streets.

The best way to describe the theme here are words by Richard Bach: “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they're yours; if they don't they never were." Self-sacrifice for the good of another can be the greatest gift you can ever give them.

Thrown Away by DC Juris
Jeremy was born male, but he feels like a girl inside and hates what's expected of him as a male. When he discovers a word for how he feels, transgender, he tries to tell his parents that he wants to be called Katherine now. They react violently and tell him to leave. Everywhere he tries to go, he's rejected and in danger until he meets a wonderful woman named Donna who is hiding a big secret of her own.

The subject of a transgender child struggling to be who they are inside touched my heart, especially when it's something I have personal experience with. I could understand the parents' confusion and anger to a certain point, but I also understood the way the child felt. DC did an amazing job of describing Katherine's growing desire and her brave attempts to appear the same on the outside as she did inside. I admired her strength and tenacity.

You Have Never Mattered by Michele L. Montgomery
Randy has a miserable life. His mother is a lazy, selfish, abusive woman who blames him for all the bad things that have happened in her life. She's also an alcoholic and a whore whose men frequently beat Randy or worse. Randy is a sweet, loving young man who tries his best to please his mom although he knows it's impossible. He never tells anyone about his abuse. The only bright spot in his life is working with the horses at his neighbor and employer's farm and their grandson, Jay. He loves Jay with his whole heart. Jay makes all the pain and humiliation bearable. When his mother finds out he is gay, she throws him out. What does he do now?

Randy is one of the best developed characters I've seen in a while. He was so real, so vulnerable, but tough at the same time. Even through his abuse, he never lost the ability to love and to dream which, more than anything else, refutes what his mother always told him—that he never mattered.

I Have Always Mattered by D.H. Starr
This is a continuation of Randy's story. He now works as a social worker and volunteers at a Crisis Hotline, which he enjoys more than anything except being with his husband, Phillip. One day he receives a frantic call from a young man named Cole whose father kicked him out for being gay. Randy had received lots of calls like this, but, unlike some of the other kids who had lost faith and given up, he sees an opportunity to help Cole before this happens. In another section, Randy is twenty-two. He needs closure with his mother. His mother's appearance may have changed, but her temperament is worse than ever. Instead of resolution, all Randy finds is bitterness and indifference. His mother's reply to why she hated him is: “I don’t hate you. Never did. You can’t hate nothin’, and you were always nothin’ to me.”

This is the conclusion of Randy's story from 'You Have Never Mattered.' As always, Randy stands tall in any situation. He finds closure with his mother and puts it behind him, yet he still gives on himself to those who need him. His phone call with Cole is a good example of how, instead of dwelling on his lurid past, he can use his experiences for good, to help another person avoid some of the agony he had to endure. What a man!

 

 

 

 

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 Anthology of Short Stories, 430 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-May-2013
Price
Buy Link