Aaron (Survivor Stories #1)by Published 08 Oct 2012
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I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.
Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.
With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?
Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.
Aaron (Survivor Stories #1) Reviews
4.5 stars. Incredibly moving story of a traumatized young man who works through his demons and eventually finds some peace. The author is honest enough to end the story without fixing everything, which I appreciated. It is also nice that she recognizes that the majority of the book should focus on the process of survival, rather than the romance itself, given the brutality of the main character's issues. This is highly recommended.
This book was one of the most hard-hitting emotionally I’ve read in a while, but sometimes it’s okay to stay up late, crying over your kindle and wondering if there is any junk food in the house, right?
Two years after being brutally attacked and left for dead, Aaron is a psychological wreck. He can barely function. He doesn’t interact with his own family, and has traumatic panic attacks if he’s touched. Before the attack [spoilers removed] Aaron was a confident, popular kid. Now, he hates to leave the house and can’t stand the way people stare at his scars. But he pushes himself to go to college because he’s scared his parents want to institutionalise him.
Spencer is damaged in his own way. Born deaf, Spencer struggles making connections with his peers. This doesn’t stop him from screwing the delivery guy. Encounters like that are fine, as long as they’re over before Spencer has to talk. He’s not a “retard”, but people treat him like one when they hear him speak.
Aaron and Spencer meet at college, and that first meeting is fucking heartbreaking. [spoilers removed]
Sharing the same computer class (the computer talk was all nonsense to me, BTW), Aaron and Spencer are partnered up for a joint project: the boy who can’t be touched, and the boy who can’t hear. Working via email and instant messaging is perfect for these guys, and very soon a real friendship develops.
That’s the crux of this story: the friendship between two boys who are both profoundly lonely and afraid.
This story is heartbreaking, pretty much on every page, and sweet and wonderful as well. The way that Spencer slowly draws Aaron out is beautiful, and every step that Aaron took made me want to hold my breath in case it went horribly wrong.
There is conflict here — Aaron’s parents don’t approve of Spencer’s dad, a psychologist with issues of his own, treating Aaron — but most of it is internal. And it’s beautifully realised. There are no magic fixes in this book, but there’s hope.
I just want to add that as a relative of a teenage boy with profound hearing loss, it makes my blood boil every time someone treats him like a “retard” just because of his speech patterns. The internet and texting are lifesavers for these kids, and allow them to communicate in a way that would have been impossible a generation ago. That was perfectly realised here with Spencer … and is probably the reason that I immediately fell in love with his character.
And this book.
Somehow lost my original review of this one.
This is a very intense story about survival, PTSD, and reclaiming life from the effects of severe trauma. It pulls you into Aaron's world of darkness from the start. I really liked Spencer, and his own issues and progress, and how his deafness played into the dynamics. I appreciated that Aaron's parents seemed like real people, not perfect, not evil, just doing what they felt was best, coping with a child who is hurting so much, but so hard to reach. I loved that this book moved slowly, and didn't end with all problems solved and everything HEA.
It loses a star, because I had really significant issues with the therapist in this book; there were times when he behaved quite unprofessionally, and in ways that could have had serious repercussions. I felt like Aaron got better partly in spite of, not always because of, his actions.
An intense, emotional book about the healing power of love and human connection.
I had the honor to read an early copy of this wonderful book.
Aaron is a broken young man, physically, spiritually and emotionally. He's the survivor of a vicious attack, the details of which are slowly revealed over the course of the book. He's frozen in time, uncertain if he even wants to live.
Then something happens that forces him out of his paralysis, and he dredges up the little courage he can find and dares to venture into the world again. Back to school.
I don't want to venture too far into the storyline, but he meets a young deaf man, Spencer, who challenges the vision of the future - or lack of vision - Aaron has resigned himself to.
This is a difficult book to read. It's moves me on a visceral level, and I struggle with wanting to help this young man and trying to imagine his pain. But damn it, it is so worth the journey. Ms. Barnaby knows how to touch us on a primal level while maintaining her own emotional distance, and it's a rare and beautiful feat.
This book will not be for everyone, and that's okay. But for those willing to step out without a net, it's worth the risk.
Great book dealing with a hard topic. This is the first book I've read from this author and I will definitely be reading more.
Aaron had a life and traumatic experience two years ago and he is pretty much a walking corpse. He has flashbacks, panic attacks, etc. and is basically just medicating his life away as he doesn't know how to deal with what happened to him. I felt so bad for him and my heart ached for what his family was going through.
When Spencer came into the picture things slowly started changing for Aaron. This is a beautiful story about true friends. I don't really want to go into anything much more than that, but I would definitely recommend this book to anyone as it was a really heart touching story.