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Bleeding Hearts

Josh Aterovis

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : MLR Press

Published : 2017

Copyright : Josh Aterovis 2017

ISBN-10 : PB 1-64122-027-9
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-64122-027-9

Publisher's Write-Up

Teen sleuth Killian Kendall struggles with coming out under the shadow of a lethal hate crime in small town Maryland.

Even the most idyllic small town has dangerous currents just under the surface - like abuse, bigotry and hate. And murder. Killian Kendall is a small-town teen whose whole world is about to be turned upside down. The new kid in school is openly gay and, despite himself, Killian finds himself drawn to him.

When the boy is killed in a brutal attack, and Killian is injured in the process, Killian begins to questions everything around him. The police seem eager to write the attack off as a random mugging, but Killian knows better. Unable to ignore the injustice, Killian launches his own investigation, and everyone is a suspect - even his closest friends. His search turns up hatred in small town America. Before it's over, more people will die, and Killian's life will be on the line again.

Bleeding Hearts is the first book in the Killian Kendall Mystery Series.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (311017) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 9/10

Josh Aterovis' Bleeding Hearts introduces Readers to the son of a home-grown, homophobic local District Attorney. Sixteen-year-old Killian Kendall has never been particularly popular with his classmates, nonetheless he does have three friends, Zach, Jesse and Asher, with whom he pals around. They are friends at school and away from school as well.

Immediate problems erupt when Killian make friends with a new classmate. Zach and Jesse are irate that Killian is talking with a gay person. Asher is troubled and is not sure precisely why. With his parents divorced, Seth Connelly, has just come to live with his father. Seth is an agreeable young man who has decided he has to be who he is, and, if his being gay is problematic for others then sobeit.

As the narrative continues Seth is ruthlessly murdered and Killian is knifed and left for death. As Killian's father comes to grips with the understanding that his son will no longer simply follow the domineering man's harsh rules; Killian's life is forever altered. Killian's father bars him from living in the family home and Seth's father, Adam, offers a home for the teenager. Killian and feminine classmate Gilly become 'an item,' Killian and Seth's younger brother attend a costume party where an intimidating 'Batman' appears, Killian's car windows are smashed, his mother leaves his father, and Zach is found slain in the same manner as was Seth.

Thanksgiving spent in Adam's home is the scene bringing together a group of both straight and gay 'extended family' who help Killian understand that those who accept and care for us are family even when our blood relations may have turned their backs on us. The murderer is finally exposed and the Christmas Holiday brings potential for happier days ahead.

Novelist Josh Aterovis has fashioned a nicely crafted work complete with teenaged anxiety, homophobic reactions at their worst and the problems facing many in our culture as they come to recognize their own sexual orientation. Bleeding Hearts presents a view of a young man coping not only with the usual teenaged confusion as befalls all kids trying to sort out who and what they are, but also one who is unexpectedly faced with the realization that he is gay.

The year portrayed as setting for Bleeding Hearts is not given, consequently the reader is left supposing that it is set in the time in which the reader is living. As a straight mom of adult sons, I can only envision what the young man in this specific narrative must be facing as he is attempting to find his place in the adult world. Killian’s difficulties are compounded when he comprehends the adult world he supposed he would be entering is not the one he will really be a part of.

I recall well the tenor in this country exhibited toward teens in general and gays in particular during the 1980s and 90s. During those busy days when my own home was occupied with seeming feral teens struggling to become adults in a world that saw their hair, songs, clamour, automobile driving, goals, objectives, ambitions, selves in total as likely the strangest generation ever; I remembered my own teenaged years. We too were viewed by parents and society with much the same reaction.

While Bleeding Hearts is a novel and not particularly meant to be an analytical portrayal; Writer Aterovis has skilfully given us a peek into what youngsters face as they step into a not always friendly adult world. Bleeding Hearts if read by parents and other adults can cause us to stop and think and perhaps better understand our own teens, or the teens who populate our schools and society.

Times and common attitudes concerning either what the ethos of the populous may view as objectionable, perhaps as atypical sexuality as opposed to the unobjectionable, expected teenaged angst may have changed in particulars, however in general; it often seems older generation dismay with the younger does not always appear to have changed much from one generation to another, from present time to past. Facing the acceptable aspect of adolescence was wearisome at times for myself first as a teen and again as a parent. It is tough to imagine having to deal with both acceptable and unacceptable at once. Writer Aterovis provides a glimpse into problems faced and, perhaps forgotten by the older generation, as teens begin to tread the waters of the adult world.

In the manner of Dorien Grey and his Dick Hardesty series author Aterovis has crafted a group of characters who are very credible. From the imperious homophobic father, the demoralized mother and on to the optimistic girlfriend, as well as each of the other actors in this work; the individuals are not always likeable. They are however plausible, well fleshed and convincing. Dialogue is authentic. Recent news stories today concerning continuing gay bashing lends standing to the circumstances and actions presented on the pages of Bleeding Hearts.

Entwined into this narrative of a young man's coming out is the mystery regarding who is slaying the fellows Killian befriends. The deaths cannot merely be the result of a homophobic miscreant. Seth was gay, Zach was not. Watch the red herrings!

While this work is a fiction; it may well assist helping both young, conceivably worried gays who are just becoming mindful of their own sexuality as well as members of the straight community toward an understanding of the difficulties besetting a group not too well understood by either side. Teens, whether gay or straight, live in a restless, tempestuous world of their own at best. When teens also face the added complications of learning to deal with possible or actual parental rejection, societal limitations and forfeiture of sanctuary of what was accustomed; the problems of growing up are only compounded.

NOTE: This is not a book for the homophobic or those who refuse to accept that children, our own or those in the society around us, are their own persons and are not simply little lumps to be moulded/possibly bullied into what parents or others in the culture maintain they must be.

I found Bleeding Hearts to be an interesting, compelling read, happy to recommend for the home, school and public library as well as for the counsellor book shelf as a book to aid troubled youngsters with whom they may be working.
Molly Martin (31st October 2017)

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