“Daddy loves you so much, and I’m going to make it all better. I promise.”
In a word: Read the thing. This was a heavy read. Holy shit. I knew going in that this book involved a very sick child and a lot of serious medical situations, but I had no idea that Robbie was only a newborn. Like, sick children in general is depressing, but just the image of a teeny tiny newborn having to go through all the pain Robbie has to go through is especially hard to read about. This book really has two distinct aspects to it: the first, and major, one is baby Robbie’s fight for survival and how his single father Julian deals with it all; the second is Julian’s romantic relationship with insurance coordinator Simon. Although Julian and Simon’s relationship is important in the grand scheme of things, and also involves Simon’s journey in coming out of the closet for the first time ever, Robbie’s care and illness definitely comes across as the more involved part of the story. The stakes certainly seem higher for it, anyway. The romantic aspect of the story starts out very slowly. The story starts with Robbie’s traumatic birth and the focus mostly stays on Robbie and Julian for a while. There are some chapters from Simon’s point of view but they mostly focus on his strained relationship with his mother and his fears over coming out, because Julian and Simon don’t really cross paths at first. Once Julian and Simon really start connecting, though, their relationship becomes more prominent in the story and the two plotlines start meshing together. This book can be a bit of a heavy read, but pretty much all of that comes from Robbie’s medical issues and how Julian and his family deal with them. Simon has some drama on his end with his fear of coming out and the homophobia he deals with, and the threat to his job if it comes out that he’s dating a patient’s father, but the relationship itself actually is surprisingly without much conflict (there isn’t even a third-act breakup). This read was very emotional and suspenseful, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe don’t read it if you need a pick-me-up, but it’s still good. Julian and Simon are great, Robbie is sweet, and the ending didn’t ruin anything for me.
The Summary: (from Goodreads) Waiting for someone else’s child to die so yours can live is the worst kind of Hell
Celebrated Young Adult author Julian Holmes pits the heroic characters in his Black Heart series against all different kinds of monsters. But when a critical heart defect threatens his son’s life, he finds he has no champion. No amount of books, classes, or practice can prepare Julian for the fight to save his beautiful son’s life.
Suddenly there are hospitals, transplant lists, and the nightmare of insurance red tape to navigate. In the midst of his trouble, Julian meets Simon Phelps, the insurance coordinator for Robbie’s case. Simon lives so deep in the closet he might never find his way out, but he dreams of exactly what Julian has. Then one night, drunken need and desperation brings them together, and a new fight begins.