Would you recognize hope if you looked into its eyes?
At sixteen, Tucker has nothing but the clothes on his back, the bruises on his ribs, and the truth about what happened between him and the band teacher. He left home looking to escape his memories, but all he's found on the road are new bad ones to take their place.
Then he meets Gabriel, a beautiful hustler, and Kelsey, a fire-obsessed girl with a head full of fairy tales. After Gabriel rescues him from a pair of drunks looking for a fight, Tucker's happy to join him in the abandoned factory he calls home. All he must do in return is help keep Kelsey safe.
But Kelsey's not what Tucker thinks she is, and safety isn't what she needs from him. To help her, he'll have to face the secret he’s been running from, and the flames she’s running to find.
That night Kelsey got away from us.
We went back to the factory and hung out for the rest of the day. Kelsey paced most of the time, around and around, pausing at the cobwebbed windows, sometimes talking to herself. Occasionally, I caught a word or two, things like sad and kiss and flames. Things that made me more sure my deductions were correct.
Toward the end of the day she settled down. Gabriel waited until she'd spent an hour sitting quiet at the window before leading us out to the pizza place again. She ate the same way she always did—methodically, chewing, wiping her chin, taking small, careful bites. At one point she cried a little, just a few tears dripping down her cheeks as we sat on a bench and watched the cars go by.
"Gabriel," she said at last. "Can I have an orange soda?"
He took a long look at her, from over the top of his sunglasses. "Whatever you want, Kels. Be good and stay with Tucker."
A long line had formed at the counter of the pizza joint. I could see him in it, casual, perfect, ignoring the appraising glances he earned. Next to me, Kelsey leaned her head to one side, then scooted closer.
"Stories need hope," she said. "Stories have room inside them for everything, for every bad thing that the world has ever known, but only when they have hope too. Just a little thing, just a bird singing when morning comes. You know?"
My mind was on Gabriel, not Kelsey's ramblings. "Sure," I said. "Yeah, I know."
"I’m sorry, Tucker."
"I think I want a grape soda instead. Can you tell Gabriel?"
"You got it," I said. I was halfway to the door when I looked back and saw the bench was empty.
Long and Short of It
Review: BEST BOOK
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