Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:
When Ahmed's parents send him to a residential treatment center known as Serenity Ridge, it's with one goal: to "fix" their son, at any cost. But eleven months of abuse and overmedication leave him desperate to escape. And when the opportunity comes, Ahmed runs away to San Francisco. There, he moves into a secret safe house shared by a group of teens. Until they become independent at eighteen, the housemates hide away from authorities, bound by rules that both protect and frustrate. Ahmed, now known as Ben, tries to adjust to a life lived in impossibly close quarters with people he barely knows, all of whom guard secrets of their own. But even if they succeed in keeping the world at bay, there's no hiding from each other or from themselves. And there's no avoiding the conflicts, crushes, loneliness, and desire that could shatter their fragile, complicated sanctuary at any moment. .
My Two Cents:
One Word: Powerful. This novel takes the reader to places they may not be ready to go. It is definitely not for the faint of heart...or cry babies like me. The characters, not just Ahmed/Ben but the secondary characters that are runaway GLBT teens are one of a kind. They are in your face, fighting for the spotlight type of characters. They refuse to be judged and they demand respect. I don't like them all but I can't help but care deeply about what happens to each of them. They each come with their own heart wrenching story.
The drugs, the sex, the abuse;it's all there. No sugar coating and glamorizing this life for these teens. The author keeps it all the way real with us readers. It shows when a teen's "coming out" can go horribly wrong. There's no long heart to heart conversation about how they're loved no matter what. We see the ugly side, where teens are sent away to be "fixed" only to get broken.
I loved that the story just continued to move. There weren't really any stagnant areas. This novel is one of the most original plots I've read in a long time. Thank you Tomas Mournian for doing your own thing. If I ever see a gay Arab I will not be shocked. I recommend this book for teens 17 and up. There is a lot of strong adult content on every page.