As a musician at the popular college café Coed Joe’s, high school senior Kai Manter is never lacking for male attention. Out, proud, free-spirited, and sexually aware, Kai sets his sights on his darkly Gothic and undeniably bad-tempered coworker, Jamie Arlotta, a freshman at the local arts university. Sporting long hair and alluring hippie style, Kai expects his interest will be reciprocated, with satisfying sex as the end goal. That’s what usually happens. But Jamie’s lessons in life have been harsher. Having been sexually abused by his older stepbrother for several years, Jamie has grown an impenetrable outer shell meant to keep the world at a safe distance.
Kai is angry at first when he takes the brunt of Jamie’s bad temper, but after Kai accidentally discovers the abuse Jamie has suffered, he wants to fix things. Kai’s plan is based on what he knows best—music—and he stages a “musical intervention” to let Jamie know he’s not alone and things can get better. When Jamie’s perspective changes and he emerges from his shell, Kai changes, too, gaining a whole new understanding of what sex can be when love is there too.
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Trisha Harrington said-
This book was really heavy for me. I’m not sure why it affected me the way it did. The abuse wasn’t the heaviest I have ever read and there weren’t any graphic scenes. But it shows how amazing this book is because it affected someone who doesn’t get affected very often. I found Jamie so real and raw. He was a broken shell who needed one person to show him kindness. He was like a lost little boy in so many ways and I just wanted to hug him and never let him go.
I can’t give this book any less than 5 stars. Kai and Jamie’s story is one that will stay with me for a long time. It was not an easy story to read, but I am not sorry I read it. This story wasn’t just about abuse but hope too. It was about fighting to make your life better and finding that person who will always be there for you no matter what.
I am amazed at how deftly Mia Kerick manages to incorporate a main character suffering from repeated sexual abuse into a YA novel and get the character to the end of the story without compromising her younger audience or dumbing down the story. I had mentioned I was not aware of the intended demographic for Intervention until I started writing this review – I think however that even in an adult fiction her character Jamie would have fit in just fine. To me that proves Mia Kerick is an expert in creating damaged characters that strive for better than the treatment they got. The interesting premise to me in this story is that Ms. Kerick paired her broken protagonist with a polar opposite. Despite an onset of hormones peaking, Kai actually seems like a really sweet guy, and his elder brother Charlie (Chuck as Kai calls him) sounds the complete opposite of Jamie’s stepbrother. That pairing helped diffuse the gritty ugliness of Jamie’s suffering – with the story’s point of view entirely Kai’s, he could guess but not clearly conceive what Jamie went through, and his efforts to help are generous and caring, making Jamie’s ordeal palatable to the younger audience and endearing both characters to the reader. The other unexpected delight that surprised me was my reaction to the list of songs Kai would sing at Coed Joe’s to reach Jaime – with just the titles of songs, or just describing the gist of a song’s message as it related to Jamie’s plight, the author moved me and helped me imagine how Kai managed to get through to Jamie. There was a point in the story when Kai was actually making inroads helping Jamie with his predicament that Jamie hit a bad setback, and emotionally ‘slammed the door’ on Kai’s help and good intentions. The songs Kai sang as described by the author had my eyes welling up and reaching for the tissues – I probably let out a sob or two by the time he finished and I laughed at myself for being moved so.
Of course I recommend this book to the intended YA audience! I would even recommend it to all other readers of various demographics who enjoy contemporary romances. A character-driven story with endearing protagonists, Intervention helped me see the widening range of troubled teens Ms. Kerick could create, and as this one rockets up the charts, I hope to see more of her work in the future.
It was gorgeous. I cried many tears, but they were all worth it. Kai’s voice is authentic throughout this book, written entirely in his limited POV, and thus we get treated to his inner monologue and see the growth he experiences, from being confused as to why he’s so intrigued by Jamie to starting to get it to really understanding that his job in Jamie’s recovery is not to lead the charge, but to be the uplifting wind under Jamie’s wings. At its core, this book describes a beautiful first love between the two boys who must overcome difficult obstacles to succeed.
Open your eyes to the world around you. Sometimes, all it takes is a good look at someone with different eyes, and a little intervention to help them along.
No man is an island. We’d do well to remember that.
And you can’t really know what anyone is going through until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Remember that too.
Loved Kai and Jaime’s relationship. Just perfect to me.
I can’t even begin to explain all the things that happen and why, you’ll just have to read it. It’s worth the money and all the tissues you’ll need.
Mandy at Hearts on Fire Reviews said-
This felt like a ‘quiet’ story, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of emotions and music and art and interaction, but it felt mature, slow, a realistic development and well paced.
I loved how the music and art played such a huge roll for these young men.
Jamie is a wonderful artist in his own right and has used his art to make his life bearable. He shows it in how he decorates his place, as Kai calls “in his crayon box of a crib “. He uses it to communicate with Kai, to thank people and to help tell his story.
I got to know and understand Kai better than Jamie, but seeing how much Kai felt for him, made me love Jamie too. I feel Kai changes at least as much as Jamie does, possibly more. He matures and learns as much as he wants to do things for the man he loves, he also has to let him do it for himself and in his own way.
This is a wonderful YA story. It is serious but also sweet and hopeful. The cover is amazing and the way art and music in all its forms are used to help tell the story was a highlight for me.
COULD have been my green eyes he was into… or maybe he had a thing for long hair. Lots of dudes did. But probably it was the song.
The cute blond waiter I’d talked myself out of asking for a date a couple of months ago was staring at me. Or like, studying me, more so. His dark gaze slid from my face, down over my shoulder, then along my arm to my fingertips, and he watched closely as I went to town on the neck of the guitar. His lips slowly curved into this sweet little smile at the sound of my music but not so much at me.
Uh-huh, I was pretty sure it was the tune that’d caught him.
It was always the tune.
AFTER my set, I stuck my Gibson in the stand and jammed it into the corner so nothing got dumped on her. I’d had to scrape dried caramel macchiato off my guitar one time too many. Not my idea of fun. On second thought, I pushed Sheila back a few more inches; you can’t be too careful of the good shit in your life, right? And yeah, so maybe she’s a guitar, not a cat, and therefore didn’t really deserve a name, but somewhere along the line she’d morphed from “my guitar” into “Sheila Gibson,” and, incidentally, the only female lover I’d ever have.
My so-called stage was actually just this low riser in the far corner of Coed Joe’s, a student-run café on the edge of the Dascomb Arts University campus; it was lodged snugly between a bunch of mismatched tables and the wall. Pretty tight quarters—but it was my stage—and I’m not screwing with you when I tell you I loved every second I spent on it. I stood there for a few more minutes, looking out over my coffee-guzzling, study-breaking audience of twentysomethings, who were pretty much all gazing up at me in obvious buzz-kill mode now that the little high school musician had ditched them in order to take his fifteen-minute, anything-but-more-coffee break. And at the same time, as I scanned the put-out expressions on the artsy college students’ faces, I was holding this inner debate as to whether or not I should go find that hottie waiter and see if he was up for grabbing a burger with me at closing time.
Why the debate? That’s a fair question. And I guess the best way to answer it would be to say “once bitten, twice shy.” I’d recently escaped from a rather questionable romantic relationship with a dude who just wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I wasn’t looking forward to a repeat performance of that shit, so to speak. Can you say “stalker”?
I caught a flash of rich auburn out of the corner of my eye the very second my pal, Mandy, came up behind me and grabbed me hard by the belt. Within a second she was boinging my long curls and then rubbing her knuckles on my stubbly beard; that girl never could keep her hands to herself. “Hey, Kai, what’re you up to after work? Get this: my friend Alana stole, say, eight kinds of schnapps from her parents’ liquor cabinet—took a little from each bottle, and she mixed ’em all together in an empty pickle jar—and we thought that we’d have a little ‘Schnapps Shots Shindig.’ I made the name up, sweetie… try saying that one ten times fast. Anyways, it’s on for tonight, in my basement, after work. You in?”
A server at Coed Joe’s, Mandy was, like me, a senior in high school, but she lived in the nearby and much less ritzy (just being honest) town of Barlow. She was also an accomplished classical pianist, having studied it since she was old enough to sit on a piano bench. Both of us were very practically, but more so parent-pleasingly, applying to be music education majors next year at Dascomb Arts University, which was just up the road here in my hometown of Hartwick, Massachusetts. So, yeah, we were both going for the college degree, while in a perfect world all we’d have to do was strut our musical stuff under the bright lights to make a living.
“Hello, Kai… I asked you something. Are you in, or what?”
“Not so much for tonight, and besides, that funky schnapps blend in a pickle jar sounds like hours of barfing waiting to happen.” My parents weren’t the sniff-your-breath-when-you-come-home-late types, but boozing really wasn’t my number one vice, anyway. My favorite little depravity was chasing boys, which had gotten me into more than a little bit of trouble. Like the heavy-drama-dude-stalking-me kind of trouble. “I was thinking of trying to get next to that blond waiter, you know, the little dude with the big brown eyes.” Okay, so maybe I made a hissing sizzle sound because, yeah, the dude was caliente (that’s hot in Spanish). “What’s his name, anyhow?”
When I spun around to look at her face, there was definitely a look of pity mixed in with all Mandy’s freckles. “Good luck with that dude… ’cause you’re gonna need it, honey. His name is Jamie Arlotta. He went to my high school… graduated last year and now he’s a freshman at Dascomb Arts. And get this, back in high school everybody called him ‘Pretty Vacant,’ because, sure he’s got the pretty face of an angel, but there’s nothing else going on inside that boy. His head? Empty. His heart? We were all convinced that his chest cavity was hollow too. As a matter of fact, I think I heard an echoing sound when I bumped into him one time.”
“Are you saying he’s, like, lacking in brainpower or something?” The boy I had my eye on definitely did not send out the “shit for brains” vibe. And “dumb” was definitely a deal-breaker for me. I liked a hot dude as much as the next guy, but he had to have a decent head on his shoulders to flip my switch, got me?
“Who the hell knows? Didn’t you hear me, K? The guy, he’s hollow—vacant, see? You say hello to him, you get nothing in return. You ask him how he’s doing for tips? Nothing. Nobody here at work likes him either. He struts around the place with his nose in the air like he’s all that.”
“Well, he kind of is all that.” I mumbled that part beneath my breath. With a bit more volume, I asked, “You know if he’s one of my kind?”
“Gay? Yeah, I think so. At least he certainly seems to be, but as you can imagine, he’s not discussing his sexual preference with any of his lowly coworkers.” She pulled a red-tinted tube of ChapStick out of her apron pocket and smeared it around her lips in two well-practiced circular movements. “Looks like you got it bad for Pretty Vacant, Kai. But you haven’t met the guy behind the face yet; you’ll get over him after ten seconds in his surly presence.” Mandy spun around and headed for the coffee bar. “Gotta head, my drinks are up!”
As I watched her bounce over to the bar, I decided that I was, in fact, into this. In other words, I was up to the Pretty Vacant Challenge. Chances are, if a guy played that hard to get to begin with, he wouldn’t turn into Mr. Desperate in the near future, and he’d know how to keep his distance after our romp in the sack was done and I told him I felt like going solo, unlike what had gone down last spring in my disastrous hookup with then-college-junior Noah Griffin. I could sum up the soul of that relationship in two words: restraining order. No, my parents hadn’t Intervention | 9
ended up having to drag my ass downtown to the Hartwick PD to fill out the forms, but we’d had to threaten him with it. More than once. And that had sucked.
Then Jamie Arlotta was right there, super conveniently right in my path, lurking stealthily by the men’s room, wispy blond bangs completely covering up one of his eyes. And somehow, he looked super alluring, and all the while still managed to ward off everybody’s foolish attempts at conversation with an expression that clearly said, “I’m not even slightly interested in anything you could possibly come up with to say to me, so don’t bother.” Nonetheless, it was my break. Time for me to visit the little boy’s room, right?
Now, I wasn’t exactly freaking out over the prospect of approaching Jamie Arlotta, since I’d always had pretty decent luck with dudes in general. Something about dark hair, light eyes, a runner’s bod—and then there was the whole musician thing—well, none of that hurt my chances with dudes at all. And me being a couple of years younger than them hadn’t ever seemed to pose a major problem for any of my dates; I guess most of them had assumed I was legal. (And now that I’d turned eighteen years old, I was.) To go with my decent looks, I had what you might call a relatively positive self-image, so even if I wasn’t radiating confidence out of every pore, I definitely wasn’t one of those guys who was always trying to blend into the background. All in all, the combination of grunge band looks, reasonable ability to carry a tune, and no lack of confidence just worked for most guys.
Okay, so it drew ’em to me like bees to honey.
And ever since I’d turned sixteen and started working at Coed Joe’s, the vast majority of the dudes I’d been out with had been older than me, as in college students from DAU. Dudes who, I’d discovered through plenty of hands-on experience (don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining), were finally having the chance to experience the freedom in life to spread their wings wide in the sexuality department. Much more so, at least, than the one or two gay high school guys I knew who hadn’t dared to stick so much as a baby toe out of the closet. In fact, I’d met nine out of ten of my most recent boyfriends right here at the café, having caught their eyes while singing my ass off and strumming on Sheila.
What was I on the ledge about, then? That one was easy: the prospect of getting involved in something overly heavy again scared the living bejesus out of me. It had just been so frigging hard to get out last time, when all I’d been looking for with Noah, my spring fling from last year, had been to get my rocks off. But no, there had to be drama, and God knows, I suck with that. What could I say, though? I was a young and healthy male; Mother Nature—you know, in terms of the birds and the bees and that sweet honey—was pretty much always calling me, 24/7.
For that matter, she was calling my name right now.
So I made my grand entrance. “Yo, Jamie, right? I noticed you noticing me before, you know, when I was jamming.” I was going for charming, but I suspected I ended up sounding more or less stuck-up as all hell. I shrugged, not too worried about it. Whatever.
The slim blond shook his hair off his face and looked up at me with icy, dark eyes. And before he’d even opened up his pretty lips to speak, those frigid eyes thinned to narrow slits. “Don’t flatter yourself. I liked the song, that’s all.”
Slits wide enough for arrows to shoot through.
So, yeah, once again, it was the song. All the guys liked my music. “What song was it?”
“Ang—shit, I don’t know! It’s not like I wrote it down or anything.”
“It was ‘In the arms of an angel,’ wasn’t it? So, you’re into Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel.’ Interesting….”
“I don’t have time for this right now.”
“Do you have time later, for a burger, maybe?” Okay, I was a realist. I could tell things had been heading rather steadily downhill with Jamie and me, starting from, say, word one. In fact, the short trip from bad to worse had taken me approximately four sentences. My bad, huh? And it was also clear as the ice encasing this dude’s heart where our little chat was heading. Because, judging from the way he was glaring at me with his head cocked, his one now visible eye all squinted up, and his jaw set rigidly, I’d say it was dang clear that pretty Jamie Arlotta had just about slammed the door on me.
He shifted his weight onto one hip, and he pointed at me, accusingly, like I’d just mooned his grandma. “One, I’m a vegetarian, so I’m too morally principled to have a ‘burger’ with you. And two, this is the big one, you are clearly a childish idiot, and I’m too uninterested to have a burger with you. So it looks like you’ll be eating alone.” Slam! Now the deed was done.
Don’t know just why, but I felt a flicker of desire as I watched him stride away. And with each step, Jamie’s fingers surged deeper and deeper into his soft-looking, light-blond waves until they finally reached the darker roots, almost like the guy was trying to massage away his own pent-up tension.
Call me wacked, but I liked what I saw. There is absolutely no accounting for taste, is there?
I called after him, “Since you forgot to ask, this so-called childish idiot’s name is Kai Manter. It was mad sweet to meet you, dude.” As I continued to take in the speedily retreating view of his fine form, I muttered under my breath, “And for the record, Mr. Arlotta, I’m a vegetarian too. I was talking about veggie burgers.”
Intervention was nominated for 3 M/M Romance Member’s Choice Award
In August 2014 Intervention was named a Recommended Read