That's Who I Am - Jayden Brooks
That’s Who I Am is Jayden Brooks’ contribution to the Dreamspinner Press Mended 2014 Daily Dose Anthology. It is Ms. Brooks’ first published work and it shows the promise of a very bright future for this writer. An amazing debut short story which, while being a little over the top in the depiction of Jared’s family, was deeply moving and redemptive. Very powerfully written.

Poor Jared. He’s not stupid, he really isn’t. He just doesn’t think clearly before he speaks. Many of us, myself included, can empathize with this ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome because we either have a colander where our brain to mouth filter should be, or are missing said filter altogether. And Jared’s family, including his twin brother, have used this to bully and abuse Jared his entire twenty-three years of life. I have never seen a collection of people so unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions. Since Jared makes such a handy donkey on which to pin the tail of blame, they do so at every opportunity.

When Jared is woken from a deep sleep after working all night, he says the wrong thing to the wrong person, and hell rains down on him in the form of his father’s fists and feet. Of course, this is supposedly Jared’s own fault. Jared is literally broken.

Thankfully Jared’s brother Conner’s ex-girlfriend and her brother step in and become the family Jared should have had all along. Sophie and Donovan are by his side while he is in the hospital and rehab. Then they offer him a home with them. The entire time, he is having a hard time trusting that it is for real. That the feelings he is developing for Donovan are real and that the signals he is getting from Donovan are real.

It was so lovely to see Jared come into his own. He gained confidence through finding work that he was good at and that satisfied him to plan to go back to college. He gained the confidence to love Sophie as a sister and care for her in ways his brother wouldn’t. And he found the confidence to approach his feelings for Donovan as he would an equal.

The slow, teasing, hot build of Jared and Donovan’s relationship was wonderful. It was sweet and hot and loving. Once they were on equal footing emotionally, they were perfect together. And Donovan’s red hair and hairy chest didn’t hurt the reading experience for me personally!

A great start for a new author from whom I hope to read many more stories. I highly recommend this story of redemption to everyone.