If You Really Love Me - Gene Gant
This is a 3.5 star review

When I saw this book on the list from Harmony Ink, I was very intrigued. Gene Gant is a new-to-me author, and the blurb made the book sound too good to miss.

The story begins by introducing us to Ellis. Ellis is, in my opinion, a very typical kid. He is trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up, and he is doing his very best to survive his time in high school. Ellis is being raised by his mother, since his father ran off before Ellis was born, and now that he is almost eighteen he finds himself looking forward to some freedom and giving his mom a break also.

Ellis had a run-in with a fellow student when he was younger, and that left him less than unpopular at school. None of the kids at school talked to him, and his only friend, Cary, dropped out of school. This leaves Ellis very lonely in his day-to-day life. The strained relationship with his mother, which, in my opinion bordered on neglect, left him to feel all alone in the world.

When bad boy, Saul Brooks, and Ellis meet up by chance one day, a tentative friendship begins that quickly leads to Ellis’s first real relationship. Saul and Ellis seem to fall in love with one another quickly, as most young people do, but there is a real honesty in their bond.

When Ellis’s mother enters into a relationship, Ellis is thrown for a loop when he meets her new love. He is not receptive to this arrangement, and this causes some very tense times in his household. As if he isn’t going through enough, Saul’s father reveals a secret about his son that rocks Ellis’s foundation. The final blow to Ellis comes when he finds out that his best friend may not be there for him, as he has always been in the past.

I believe the author handled these obstacles in Ellis’s life well. Ellis was a typical eighteen-year-old in much of his thinking, but he did show some great maturity in most of the situations he found himself in. By the end of the book I could definitely see the changes in Ellis through his relationships with all of the people in his life.

The only real problem I had with this story at all was the situation between Saul and Ellis. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I feel some of the issues Ellis dealt with were way out of the realm of what a young man would have been able to handle. I understand all people are different and their strengths are many and varied, but Ellis seemed to reach way beyond his years in some situations. This did not hinder the flow of the story for me, though, and I would highly recommend this book for anyone that loves a great YA story that depicts a character’s growth.

Reviewed by Jackie at The Novel Approach