Book Reviews

Borrowed Boy by Gene Gant at Harmony Ink Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Young Adult / Fiction
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 07-January-2019

Book Blurb

An entire life can be snatched away in an instant.


Thirteen-year-old Zavier Beckham is an average teen living in Memphis. He has great parents and a quirky best friend named Cole. He’s happy, and he thinks his life is totally normal… until an FBI agent shows up and informs Zavier he was stolen as an infant and sold to an adoption agency.


Now his biological parents want him back.


Forced to confront his distant past, Zavier faces an uncertain future. He may be taken from the only home he’s known by parents who are strangers living in Chicago. He may have to deal with a brother who hates and torments him. He meets Brendan, an older boy who offers him friendship and wakens a strong, unsettling attraction in Zavier. Brendan has secrets of his own, and he’ll either be the one ray of light in Zavier’s tense situation or the last straw that breaks Zavier under the pressure.


Book Review

Adoption can be a good thing, but when it goes wrong, like it does in this gripping novel about the consequences of a fake adoption based on illegal papers, the emotional fallout for everyone concerned can be catastrophic. Told from the point of view of thirteen-year-old Zavier, this story is about the events that follow the discovery that his adoption was “fake” – everything from Zavier finding out that he was adopted in the first place, that his biological parents have been looking for him for years, and the crushing (for him) fact that they now want him back. Zavier’s world collapses in one fell swoop and his entire future turns into what he expects to be a disaster.

What happens is heartbreaking on more than one level, and my heart went out to Zavier, who is helpless and unable to have a say in his own future. It also made me mad at a system that has so little regard for what kids really want, even young teenagers. The way Zavier is torn away from everything he knows, the people and friends he loves, to an entirely new city without any sort of sensible transition and emotional/mental preparation or counseling is just not right. Yes, his biological parents love him too and want him back – but they should have given him more time to adjust. They are the adults here and laws or no laws, if they truly loved him, they’d have been more understanding. What happens here is probably very realistic, and that made me very sad.

Zavier has a lot to deal with. Meeting his biological parents and seeing how much they love him makes him understand what they want a little better, but that in no way means he is ready to follow them to Chicago. Memphis is his home, not that this means anything to “the law”, and despite the fact that he tells the judge that he wants to stay where he is, the verdict forces him to leave behind everything and everyone he knows.

The author does an amazing job describing not just what Zavier goes through when he has to accept his original name and become Dwayne, deal with a brother who hates him because he gets all the attention, and learn to live in a completely different environment. But the biological parents and their emotions also get good exposure, and I did feel for them. Nobody likes the situation they are in, yet it is nobody’s fault. It’s tough not to have someone to blame!

As Zavier begins to learn about his new life he also discovers he is gay, and it’s the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. From there on out things get really crazy – but the “explosion” also gives everyone (especially Zavier) a chance to really deal with the situation rather than pretend they are okay with something that nobody could possibly be good with. Once the healing starts, things get a little more hopeful – not perfect, but "okay enough" to be sure everything will work out.

If you like stories about teenagers who have to deal with dramatic changes, if you want to see a different side to adoption, and if you’re looking for an intense read that asks fundamental questions about life, the meaning of family, and how to find one’s true identity, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do. It’s a very emotional read, but I found it worth every tear I shed.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Harmony Ink Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 180 pages/53529 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 13-November-2018
Price $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
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