Sam is sick, and he wants one last thing. He wants Xavi to be with him, to stay with him until the end. Xavi drops everything and promises Sam he will be there.
As they travel across the countryside in a stolen sea-green Cadillac, they search for something neither has the courage to admit he’s looking for. But as the days slip away, Xavi isn’t sure he can keep his promise; he isn’t sure about anything. He can’t help Sam do this. He can’t stand by and watch Sam suffer, can’t be content to let Sam give up.
Saving Sam becomes the only thing that makes any sense, the only thing Xavi wants. Loving Sam becomes the most important promise he will ever make. Now he just has to convince Sam that life—and love—are worth fighting for.
Sheziss - 4.5 Hearts
Everything I love in Suki is here. Another great “cachito” of hers.
When I first began this book, it was off to me. I believed this would come to a terribly unhappy ending, with Sam being sick and walking alongside Death until the very moment when he would join her forever.
Then I felt this was going nowhere, that Xavi’s actions were an undeniable proof that this love story was never meant to happen. That there never was a “they” so “they” would never exist.
But somehow there is this turn of events and this book touched my inner core in such a way that I cannot grasp entirely.
It’s a “typical” Suki Fleet story. There is everything I love in her: very young hopeless social outcasts, disabilities, hospital scenes, pandora-boxes secrets that are revealed very late in the story. And pure angst. And true love.
Which means that I should have already had time to get used to her, that I should have been expecting this treacherous blow. It was a proper sucker punch, and I was not prepared for it.
At first I didn’t think it was possible. At first I couldn’t see it happening. At first I was this trusting young girl who was led into a magical world where in truth nothing is otherworldly.
Until it was.
I’ve not known Suki for that long. I read the first book a year and a half ago. But somehow, I’ve grown up with her. Somehow, I’ve learnt to see misfits under a different light, I’ve learnt to see under the surface. The sensibility she shows in every book of hers is addictive. And the study of character is so inspiring and beautiful I’ve fallen under her spell way too often.
This time, it was the other way around. I’ve remembered things from my past and seen them written here. Being shaped into words. Seeing them in the inked form like this has done something deep inside me. It’s not that any of this has happened to me on any personal level, but Suki made it feel that way. Made it feel personal.
The hospital is the turning point in the story. Or, better said, it was that so-close-to-the-end-of-life situation which changed everything for me. From that moment on, I was so invested in the characters I felt every emotion of theirs in my very bones.
The thrilling brutal feeling of loneliness, of despair, of apprehension. The maze of shadowed corridors, the cheap curtains, the need to get onto the bed and hug that person you hold dear behind the nurses’ watchful eyes and everybody else’s backs.
The scene in the shower.
The flashbacks in the commune and OMG I hate flashbacks but here I drank them all as if they were all the water left in the desert. The red book in a foreign language. The dead bird. The tiny rabbits. The longing glances and the misguided regrets. The terrible past mistakes. The rejection and the denial. The self-inflicted pain. The defeat and the sense that there is no alternative possible. That there is no way out.
And the omelette being turned upside-down. And the sense that now, everything is possible. That there are oh-so-many doors to be opened. I just wasn’t paying attention.
And that “they” that indeed exists.
My Physics teacher was close to being a victim in a car accident. He said he imagined his body flying through the front glass and began making calculations in his head. The velocity, the kinetic energy turning into potential energy, taking into consideration the various forms of friction which would change the trajectory of his body.
I have mostly forgotten maths at this stage of my life.
But I keep thinking in other ways that aren’t exactly meant to be.
But they are there.
The unsaid scenes.
Like the doctor looking at you in the eyes and saying “dialysis 3 times a week 4 hours each until there is a kidney available”. Going to that room full of sofas (or beds for those unable to sit) and connecting your measured “blood cleaner” tin directly to your vein-artery fistula. Young people usually choose the peritoneal dialysis, which gives an independency of sorts. Because spending so much time napping surrounded by strangers whose faces begin to seem familiar after a week or two is not something you really look forward to.
It’s not random it’s 3 times a week. It’s just the minimum of times you need your blood cleaned in order to function properly. It would be ideal going everyday. But nobody can bear that rhythm. Normally it’s a routine of Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Or a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday if you don’t really care about wasting your weekend in the hospital.
Weekends are the worst, it’s a three-day skip instead of two. It’s when people break their diet (I met a nutritionist who was so badass he liked to ring his patients on Saturdays). There are more incidents on Sundays. People die on Sundays.
And Mondays usually mean a “penalty” of an extra hour with your blood circulating out of your body. Because you overstepped in that party with your friends, or you drank/ate something you weren’t supposed to.
Depression is not unusual. Not because of this unforgiving routine, but also because your blood quality is not exactly the best.
At this stage everybody dreams of a kidney that is not theirs. And all the meds that that entails. In my country, the length of time spent in the waiting list is between 6 months and 6 years, the average being 2 years. And I’m talking about one of the global leaders in organ transplants.
It’s something I wish upon nobody on Earth. Just imagining this to happen to Sam makes my heart wrench. Just imagining this to happen to Xavi makes my heart wrench. Yes, I know life is not fair generally speaking, but they are so young, so full of possibilities, that the simple idea infuriates me to no end.
I loved the random-but-not-so-random display of kindness. They gave me hope. When a total stranger helps you because she knows someone helps her loved ones in a faraway place. When the unconditional love from the parents who had missed their son and couldn’t find a way to “find” him, to make him come back, envelopes around the characters like a warm blanket. When Xavi didn’t resign himself to let Sam go, not when he leaves him behind, not when he comes to say goodbye, not when his flame is so close to being extinguished.
It’s a kind of magic. Having a meh book in your hands and suddenly, the Midas touch turning it to gold. Because this book really shines, with a light that gets stronger and stronger, and you can only think about holding it and listening to it crackle into the infinite.
It hurts but it heals.
This story is a Phoenix. Everything is doomed before starting. Everything is hopeless. The Phoenix dies. And the flame reawakens full force. This cleansing fire is so real it was close to be a lifelong experience.
Thank you for writing, Suki.
Fantasy Living - 3.5 Hearts
Xavi and Sam are both very broken. Older than I expected, Xavi appears to have been trampled on, but also seemed to have a lot of self-hatred, which kept him in a perpetual state of misery.
Sam is still a mystery to me. I didn’t get what I needed from him in terms of character development, and for a story based inside Xavi’s head, it was a lot of right now and the memories didn’t really explain enough for me.
This was still a beautiful piece of writing, with all the feels that are expected from Suki Fleet. There is the heart-wrenching moments that make you want to curl up and cry. But this is lighter than previous work I have read from Suki. It wasn’t as tortured. The beginning still had that gut-lurching feeling that made my nerves tingle in anxiety, but it didn’t stay that way.
There was a turning point for Xavi in this story, and I felt that it lurched. It wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, and because of the limited relationship development it didn’t quite fit for me. I needed more development in both character and relationship with these two. I also needed a lot more from Sam that I didn’t get. I still wanted these two men to have everything. They deserved it, but I just wasn’t as invested in them as I wanted to be.
Some very powerful moments during the road trip. Some heavy realisations, and some moving emotional turmoil. This is best read when the heart can take a bit of strain. It is not as angsty as I have read from Suki but it will still hurt some.
Lorix - 5 stars
"Maybe if I drive fast enough and far enough, the linear path of time will curve around us, swallow us down in an endless loop."
This story is absolutely everything Suki Fleet does best. I am usually a bigger fan of her longer stories over her short stories (though don't get me wrong, I've loved everything she's written) - this story though is my favourite of her shorts. It is jam packed with all that I have come to expect from a Suki Fleet story; characters to love, emotion, interesting storylines and, most importantly, honesty.
Blurbs that seem maybe extreme always work in a story, simply because Suki Fleet is a talented writer. More than talented, really. She weaves the tales she tells, pulling the strands in until the beautiful story is revealed. I know when I pick up a book by this author I am not going to get cheap tricks or repetition or formulaic writing. I know I will get a story from the heart.
Xavi and Sam stole my heart. Social outcasts who experience life through a lens of emotional hurt, they were dealing with the unknown and the painful. The story focuses on a journey - both a literal one and an emotional one. The aspects of both cleverly written to reveal the story piece by piece, ensuring full emotional involvement of the characters and... well, basically, the slow trampling of your heart, the extent of which you don't quite realise until the story's conclusion.
Luckily Suki Fleet gives good HEA because if there is one thing you can rely on with this writer it is the fact that you're going to be an emotional wreck by the end of her writing.
I loved this story and think that everyone should give it a go.
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review(s).