Daily Archives: September 18, 2013
Title: It Should Have Been You
Author: Michael Murphy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: A List
Blurb: After a hit-and-run driver kills David McCleary, his mother, Frieda McCleary, tells her younger son, Patrick, “It should have been you.” While the McCleary family limps along for a while, it clearly died with David. In an effort to deal with her son’s death, Frieda joins a fundamentalist church while her family watches her become a stranger. When she discovers Patrick is gay, she is convinced he is the reason David was taken from her. Patrick’s father runs interference, but when he leaves town for work, she throws Patrick out onto the streets.
As a blond-haired, blue-eyed sixteen-year-old kid from the suburbs, Patrick has lived a sheltered life and doesn’t have a clue how to survive on his own. He’s struggling until he meets a local priest running a homeless shelter who introduces Patrick to Juan, a street-savvy Latino youth wise beyond his years, and they strike up an instant rapport.
It’s not pretty, but they’re making it together, until one night Juan goes off with a stranger to earn a few bucks… and doesn’t come back. Patrick is determined to find him, regardless the danger and cost.
Review: This story will break your heart. It will stay with you. As I read I kept thinking about the author’s note in the beginning and how he had based this book on a true story he’d heard nearly thirty years ago. What saddened me was that it had been almost thirty years and this story just needed cell phones, laptops and mp3 players to be current. Boys like Patrick and Juan still haunt our streets for the same reason.
I appreciated the way the story was told. We see what Patrick’s life was like before and after the day he lost his brother. We joined Patrick in his fall through the rabbit hole and every moment that leads to him dropping deeper and deeper. We cry with him as his mother gives, loudly and viciously, into her insanity and his father stands by, impotent and silent. We know him, some of us are him. We too are confused by a broken system that seems unable and unwilling to see him, much less, help him. We’re shocked and horrified by a world that preys on innocence and need. We feel his fear, his aching body going numb with cold, and share his confusion. We weep at his pain, loss, grief. We are so scared and all we want to do is grab him and take him home with us. Warm him up and feed him and keep him safe. But we can’t.
Patrick was such a sweet and innocent boy. He really tried to be good and do the right thing. He was smart and adaptable, and coped amazingly well for such a sheltered young man. He found the strength he needed inside himself to prevail.
Poor broken yet wonderful Juan. He was such a chameleon, able to become whatever was needed to survive. There is no doubt that he saved Patrick, it wasn’t clean or easy, but he prevented a lot of the really bad things that would have happened.
I wanted a happy ending for these two so badly. They deserved it. The partnership they created was beautiful, they kept each other safe and sane. They were survivors and they created their own little world together. I loved their dynamic.
I couldn’t help wondering how David would have handled their parents when Patrick came out. I imagine he would have kicked their butts and kept them in line. I am sorry that Patrick lost out on watching that show.
This book deals with very ugly topics, some of them were painful to read, but it wasn’t gratuitous. It was well written, and odd as it may seem to say, enjoyable. The story sucked me in and I couldn’t stop reading it. I was saddened, disgusted and angry. I was appalled and heartbroken. This is a story of abuse, abandonment, neglect, assault, grief, loss, survival and most of all hope.
Reviewed by Nina