Finding Home, by Garrett Leigh
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 9, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?
With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.
Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.
Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.
Content Warning for: Drug Use, Explicit Violence, Child Abuse
I’m not a big Y.A. reader and wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Finding Home by Garrett Leigh when I first signed up for it. My biggest concern was I tend to like G.L.’s angstier books and I’m typically ok with reading about adults who have past traumas but being a survivor of childhood abuse by a parent with drug and alcohol issues myself I’m always concerned about how triggering books with minors might be.
Finding Home can be a tough read. When the book first starts you get a glimpse into Leo’s home life prior to him and his sister ending up in foster care. For most of the book you don’t know the specifics of how Leo obtained his actual physical injuries but you should note that as things reach a breaking point it is discussed and could possibly be triggering. Leo also has behavioral issues which land him and his sister in yet another foster home where he meets his foster brother Charlie. Initially I wasn’t sure how the pairing would work. Charlie is the complete opposite of Leo, sweet and basically a good kid trying not to make waves. He’s a good student, has friends, his parents trust him and find him responsible. Charlie’s into anime, Leo has no idea what that means. For all purposes, the two have nothing in common…except they are both gay.
This book worked for me for a variety of reasons. The first being that while the two boys do form a bond that is romantic in nature it doesn’t become overly sexual. There’s kissing and general making out but nothing too graphic or out of line for two fifteen year olds living under the same roof. I think proximity and shared experiences give the two enough commonality for such opposites to make sense. Leo takes comfort in Charlie, who becomes sort of a safe space for him, gives him someone to put his trust in, someone to focus on to move forward. To me it made sense given his age.
The other thing that worked for me was the supporting characters. The parents and other siblings were a key element to giving this some depth. Reg, the father, who Leo initially wants less than nothing to do with is a trooper. He understands that Leo having suffered abuse at the hands of his father has extreme anger issues towards men and handles things better than I could ever hope to. The entire family, Kate (mother), Fliss and Andy (adult siblings) gave a well thought out picture of the type of people who would successfully foster kids who have survived something as traumatic as Leo and his sister Lila did.
I would love it if there was a follow up with Leo and Charlie so we could see how their relationship evolves once they are adults on their own.
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.
Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.
When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.
Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.