These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar
"Sometimes I wish I'd lost a leg or something. Everyone can understand that. They never get it when what's been broken is inside your head.
Five years after an unspeakable tragedy that changed him forever, Gordie Allen has made a new home with his half-brother Kevin. Their arrangement works since Kevin is the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track.
But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie's biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there's nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything--including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he's trusted with the truth. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future."- summary from Amazon
Dunbar's debut is a heartfelt, gripping, and honest portrayal of a boy dealing with a version of PTSD. It can at times be very hard to read but it's such a compelling story and as a reader (and empathetic human), you want things to get better for Gordie. As the novel goes on, we learn more about Gordie's past and what happened that particular night.
Of course, there is a romantic relationship going on in the story, which it seems every YA has now no matter what the topic, but there were two things I loved about this one in particular: 1) They start off as friends and slowly grow into a relationship through honesty and conversation, and 2) It's not the major focus of the story either. What I also loved was the fantastic brother relationship between Kevin and Gordie. It's not often that you see a lot of deep bonding between family members in YA and even more unlikely to see it between two brothers. It was a refreshing breath of air. Their care and love for each other was a wonderful thing to read about.
Overall, Dunbar's debut is amazing and written so beautifully. I highly recommend it and am excited to see what she does next!
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.