This story took a very unlikely premise and made it work so beautifully, it was amazing.
Title: Head On
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
At twenty-six, Gordon Stafford figures his days are numbered. At least he hopes they are. Wearied by guilt and regret stemming from a horrific automobile accident two years earlier in which a man was killed, Gordon wakes up every morning with thoughts of suicide. While the law puts Gordon to work atoning for his sins, personal redemption is far harder to come by.
Then Squirt—a simple homeless man with his own crosses to bear—saves Gordon from a terrible fate. Overnight, Gordon finds not only a new light to follow, and maybe even a purpose to his life, but also the possibility of love waiting at the end of the tunnel.
Gordon never imagined he’d discover a way to forgive himself, and in doing so, open his heart enough to gain acceptance and love—from the very person he hurt the most.
Have you ever stopped to think about how one bad decision, how one spur-of-the-moment impulse can change your whole life – ruin your whole life? Well, that’s what happened to Gordon. In a second of drunken carelessness, he killed a man. Oh, in the eyes of society he has atoned for his sin–by doing time, by losing his career as a star weatherman for a grand TV station—but his own conscience won’t give him any peace. Near suicidal with guilt, drunk every night, he merely goes through the motions of existing. Until he meets Squirt, a young man with neither name nor memory. Vulnerable yet full of inner strength, trusting yet guarded, coy and bold at the same time, Squirt captures Gordon’s imagination from the moment they first meet. With him and through him, Gordon learns wanting to enjoy life again. And with Gordon, Squirt seems to gradually heal from the pain that forced his mind to wall out his past. But there’s a terrible secret lurking in the shadows that threatens to render void all that they’ve built together.
I started out not liking Gordon much. Yes, guilt was eating away at his soul and he really felt remorseful, but there was something very selfish about his regret. It was always I, I, I with him – how valueless he felt, how sad he was, how he felt the world had ended for him. Even though he often visited the grave of the man he’d killed, he never really thought about the life his action had cut short, much less about the other lives that might have been affected by this death.
When Gordon met Squirt, when he found the beginnings of hope through this new and unexpected connection, I, the reader, felt his wonderment along with Gordon – and like Gordon did himself, I felt he didn’t really deserve finding happiness again.
Apropos Squirt – now here’s a character I loved right from the start; I wanted to wrap him in cotton, shower him with love and protect him from all the bad out there, much like Gordon did. But Squirt was more than a lost little boy in need of protection; actually he was anything but, his example shining a light on Gordon’s life.
And this was where the real beauty of this story began: when Gordon’s perception of his misdeed changed, when the miracle of finding and connecting with Squirt started pulling him out of his own self-centeredness, making him want to become a better man, not for Squirt’s or his own sake, but for both of them, for what they had and for what they were and could be to each other.
This was a very character-driven story; actually, it lived on undertones, despite all the angst and tragedy. The narrow 3rd POV narration at times briefly deviated into omniscient fourth, which created some distance that I appreciated, given the hard issues this story touched upon. Speaking of which, I think the writing in and of itself noteworthy too – flowing and compelling, it pulled me into the story immediately despite my initial dislike of the main character and narrator.
Head-On is a story of forgiveness and redemption, and it’s one of the only stories on the subject matter where I really could accept the healing power of love. In fact, I didn’t only accept it, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this warm, encouraging and absorbing book.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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