Gabe is a young man with a terrible secret: he has what he considers
to be a shameful deformity. He hangs out with a bunch of other
outcasts, some of whom cross the line to juvenile delinquency. Gabe
is an artist, who is betting his future on an upcoming art exhibit at
his school, hoping to parlay his art into a job of some sort when he
graduates, since he has no other particular plans for the future.
While he is working to finish putting together his collection for the
exhibition, he participates in a theft planned and coordinated by one
of his criminally inclined buddies, while pining for the attention of
the lovely, rich and beautiful Grace.
As it happens, Grace's life is not so wonderful, and Gabe's life is
not that bad, all things considered. What is more, the two of them
have a connection that transcends their different backgrounds and
social status. Best of all, Grace actually loves the "deformity" of
which Gabe is ashamed, and encourages him to see himself as special
and gifted rather than deformed.
Grace and Gabe face personal pain and tragedy together, and they
ultimately transcend the barriers of prejudice and class to soar off
into a future that the reader just has to believe will be happy for
both of them.
The writing itself, in terms of evocative visual imagery, emotional
involvement, characterization and thought provoking turns of phrase
was outstanding. I was drawn into the story immediately, and read the
whole thing in only a couple of days: I couldn't put it down. It made
me squirm in places at the meanness, filth and squalor in which some
people live. It made me smile when surprisingly good things happened
that I didn't expect. It made me cry with both sadness at the
unnecessary shame that too many people carry around in their daily
lives, and with happiness when characters were able to get past their
fears and shame, rising to a new level of existence.
This was not the kind of story I would ordinarily have read, but
before the end of the first chapter, I was hooked, and I became more
enthralled by the story as it went along. Yes, there were some
stereotypes, but the front-and-center characters were compelling and
three-dimensional, and I cared about them deeply. It was
heart-breaking to read about so many people hiding so much pain, so
unnecessarily. Every time they stepped out and let go of their shame,
they inevitably found love and affirmation. Why is it so hard for
humans to allow themselves to be happy?
In the first third of the book, I found myself thinking of Gabe as the
Holden Caulfield for a new generation. By the end of the book, I found
him to be much more than that. The redemption that his presence brings
to his world borders on Christological, without being religious.
I was inspired and humbled by the story. I'm happy to recommend it.
Be sure to have some tissues on hand
Gabe hasn't had it easy so far in life. His father left him before he was even born, the girl he loves doesn't know he exists and his friends seem hell bent on getting him into trouble. To top it all off, Gabe has a secret he would rather take to the grave than reveal.
But secrets are revealed, painful truths are uncovered that, far from healing, drive each individual to the edge, to depths of despair, to self harm in all its guises, to thinking the unthinkable to end it all.
Destined to become a cult classic, Born Different, is a tale of one boy's struggle to fit into a world he feels he doesn't belong.
Born Different is an inspirational book for people that wouldn't read inspirational books.
Born different questions it all.... Authority, Society, Morality, The brainwashing of consumerism of the modern world and the mental illnesses that abound.
All wrapped up in a modern urban gritty fairytale like love story that will keep you turning the pages till the end.
You might like it, it might just open your mind, it might just help you realise what you have to change.
- F. A. Aitken-Smith, August 2011
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