Publishers Weekly Review
Inspired by the true story of a vicious hate crime in Los Angeles in 1980, Hurwin (Circle the Soul Softly) traces the converging paths of two teenage boys. Thrown out of his home for being gay, 13-year-old Jason lives on the streets, where he turns tricks and finds community, but is later brutally beaten and left for dead. Though he survives, he is forever changed by that hatred ("Before the alley, I didn't understand that people could stop being human and still live"). Doug lives with an abusive dad and racist family that, along with his embrace of punk culture, help form his skinhead roots. Hurwin's descriptions of Doug's addiction to violence are especially riveting ("getting hit more and more, hitting back and feeling how that is, my fist on their flesh, always forward. It's awesome"), giving readers insight into the 17-year-old who savagely beats Jason, believing that he killed him. Sympathetic to both characters without shying away from brutality-physical or emotional-the finely crafted story leads to a powerful climax of hope and redemption that will stay with readers. Ages 15-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Booklist Review
Hurwin tackles the ugliness of hate in a story, told in alternating voices and based on true events, about two boys with more in common than they know at first. Jason, 13, works the streets in San Francisco after his religious mother refuses to accept his coming out. Then he moves to L.A., where Doug, 17, is barely speaking to his parents and is immersed in the punk scene. The narrative counts down to a night in 1980 in which a gay-bashing attack occurred, and the alternating chapters eventually give way to alternating paragraphs as the tension mounts. The dialogue and portrayals of street life are authentic and grim; Adam Rapp fans won't blink an eye. Hurwin frankly discusses sex, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, homosexuality, white supremacy, and other issues without being gratuitous or graphic. The years following the attack and a chance reconciliation (the story is based on the lives of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal) are less detailed than the early years, but their incorporation brings a more hopeful ending than that of famous victim Matthew Shephard.--Dobrez, Cindy Copyright 2009 Booklist