Review: Sharp Edges by Lenore Moreau

sharpedge

starstarstar

Author: Lenore Moreau
Pages: 162

contemporary_rommmcriminalsfirst_persontearsdrugsfumesangry

Giovanni Caruso is a fighter. You’ve got to be a fighter to live in Upper East and survive. So when he finds out someone beat his sister, he doesn’t stop to get confirmation on who before he’s in the street, ready to draw blood. After kicking in the wrong door, Gion ends up in a fight for his life with some guy he barely knows. But when the other guy wins, Gion is still alive. Alive and pinned beneath the guy, wondering why he wanted to win in the first place.

In the aftermath, Gion is left reeling. He’s not gay. He’s been straight all his life, and if he didn’t start out that way, his dad beat any queerness out of him. But he can’t get Oliver Kelly out of his head. And they keep meeting, keep ending up in bed together despite Gion’s best intentions. Will Gion be able to overcome his upbringing and win Oliver over? Or is he too straight for anything besides sex to ever happen?

This book has drived me crazy. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes I enjoyed it a lot, but other times I just wanted to skip it all. I’m glad that I have finished it, but my opinion is still the same: as many shadows as bright spots. And I’m not sure if there is a winner between the two of them. It’s rather even matched. Being honest, this kind of stories are not my cup of tea… the summary of the backcover doesn’t help the reader to prepare for what is coming…

We are walked through the story from the point of view of Gio, a young guy living in a really poor neighbourhood where violence and drugs are the main source of income. He and his brothers are street thugs who get some bucks using their fists to collect debts from people. When Gio’s sister was beaten by a guy, the loyal brother saw red and started the hunt of the idiot who dared to hit her. Except he got the wrong number and ended getting his ass handled by Oliver. After throwing some light over the misunderstanding, Gio and Oliver stop denying the attraction between them. Too bad Gio is not gay… otherwise his father would kill him…

First of all, I have to say this book has several of my personal triggers that make a story less enjoyable. Honestly, I thought the final mark was going to be much lower, because the first chapters are just plain horrible. I hate characters who smoke. I can’t handle smoke in real life and I can’t handle it in fiction. It grosses me out big time and that makes me lose the focus on the story. This book has been one of my worst nightmares in that front. Every single character is a smoker, so we have displays of that disgusting vice in almost every chapter. I hate that with a passion. What was the need of having smokers everywhere? The story could have been exactly the same without that addiction…

But that is not the only annoying habit. There is also a pretty common consumption of drugs (I don’t fucking care if it is “just” weed) and the way it is displayed… as if it were something normal… More than half of the book they are either drunk or high and it seems it doens’t matter, because they can function without any problem. That is just plain absurd. With that kind of life and their really poor nutrition, they shouldn’t be more than walking corpses… I also can’t stomach the hypocrisy of Gio around this issue. He wisely comments once that drugs are not good for teens, but he doesn’t stop his 15-years-old brother to take some. He even facilitates the drugs to him!! That was too much for me.

I was so ready to put this book in the “never again, burn it all” pile when it showed me the other side of the coin, When they are not stupidly high, we have a story about a bunch of young guys that have to endure a rotten life and a society that has forgotten them (drugs are not the solution, though). And, in the case of Gio, he has also to deal with the truth about his sexual orientation in a home with a pathological homophobic as a father. It is truly emotional and has several soul-wrenching moments that made me realize how lucky I am. It is not a book for the faint of heart, though. The homophobic language employed and some of the situations could make the reader uncomfortable if they have problems handling that kind of things.

Due to the issues mentioned previously, I have not been able to enjoy the characters as much as they deserve. If they were not smokers, I can assure you they would have left a much better impression on me. You can tell that Gio is a good guy, even though he tries too hard to hide it. The journey to accept the truth about himself is the great asset of the book and one I have enjoyed quite a lot. The story is only told through the point of view of Gio, so I can’t say we get to know Oliver all that well. He is a strange balance between sweet and tough that fits perfectly in the story told. I have the feeling that we only get to know the parts of Oliver that are relevant for Gio’s story. Several details of the ex-soldier past are revealed, but never developed. And some of those looked like pretty big deals…

Do not expect a sweet romance. Don’t even expect a hot one. How could I define it? Scrappy romance? It is as bast as the main characters and their reality. So, I guess, it is a realistic romance for them. It suits them. As a reader, sometimes it made me feel awkward; but generally speaking I’m OK with it. Although unprotected sex… In a neigbourhood where sex is almost the official currency for transactions… That wasn’t clever at all, guys.

Even though I have hated half this book (give or take), I wouldn’t mind another glance at their world. I actually would like to know if the rest of the brothers and sisters are capable of getting free of that awful existence.

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