I have a wonderful YA book review here on Joyful Antidotes today. A wonderful coming-of-age story, albeit one with a heavy tinge of sadness. Let’s crack on.
Dyed Souls* by Gary Santorella is set in the 1980s and is told from the viewpoint of 13-year-old Charlie. Charlie is an intelligent but troubled teenage boy who ponders Darwin and Plato. He has been taken from his grandparents by his drug-addict mother with the promise of a better life. However, this life is very short-lived and Charlie ends up at Hawthorne Residential Treatment Village.
Charlie falls in love with feisty Margo and everything seems to be looking up until Margo breaks his heart. Charlie decides to run back his grandparents where the eventual return of his mother makes him face the bitter truth.
This is a hard read right from the start. Dyed Souls opens with a scene between Charlie and his mother after a day pass home ends before it should and Charlie’s mother lets him down. From this very early point on, we feel the air of sadness Charlie carries with him. We are also met with our instant dislike for Charlie’s mother, something which never changes throughout the book.
During the day pass, Charlie’s mother tells him she is moving away. After a few weeks of not hearing from his mother or being able to contact her, the social workers begin to realize that something is up. They try to push Charlie to find out where she is but she protects her. This is our first indication of Charlie sensitivity and loyalty, and the moment where we fall in love with him. His mother doesn’t deserve the protection he offers and because of this, we, the readers, want to mother him.
Charlie is also a very deep thinker. This makes his volatile relationship with Margo all the worse. We all remember how emotional our first love was, and how devastating it was when it ends. Charlie feels all this much, much worse and again, those maternal instincts kick in.
The best part about Dyed Souls is how well-written it is. The retelling of Charlie’s harsh life is real and raw with no overdramatizing. Because it is so real, it is very emotional. More than once a tear fell from my eye. My heart was broken, it was a difficult read, but I loved it. If this sounds like your types of book, you will love it too.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.