The Official Description: When Lander accepts a dare to go into the forest at night he thinks it’ll be easy. He just needs to walk in and then come out, right? But that’s easier said than done. It’s like the trees have a mind of their own, and they are stopping him from finding his way back. There were always stories of people getting lost forever in the forest, but Lander had never considered they might be true.
Yban has been in the forest a long time and he knows it like no other—but he comes with his own secrets. He disappears every day, and he won’t tell Lander where he goes. But during the dark hours Lander gets to know him and starts unwrapping the layers that surround him.
The fire that keeps them warm in the forest isn’t the only spark between them; will their growing relationship survive Lander’s determination to find the way out, or will Yban’s past mistakes keep them hidden in the forest forever?
My thoughts bit: Waking Up The Sun reads like a fairy tale or a parable. It’s a fairly simplistic plot (it’s less than a hundred pages), but what it lacks in complexity it makes up for with sensitivity and diversity. Lander is a lovely young man who has been bullied in his home town. It’s bullying that leads him to accept a dare that sends him into the woods.
Once Lander is alone in the forest he’s heard so much about, the reader is made aware that he lives with panic and anxiety. Bailo does a great job of describing the sense of impending doom with no real cause that can be a symptom of panic and anxiety disorders. I loved the author’s description of the beginning of one of Lander’s attacks as his body reacting as though something is wrong even when there’s nothing there to be afraid of.
The diversity in this story is great! Lander is a young gay man who has always perceived himself to be different from other men. Lander is primarily raised by his Aunt who is a trans woman. She has experienced transphobia but is the person closest to Lander. Yban is demisexual and it is explained in a very sensitive and gentle way.
Ultimately, this story has a great message about using your talents and skills to be yourself. If you are yourself, you will find the path that you are meant to be on. This is a warm and emotional happy-ever-after. It has some very spicy sex scenes too!
The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: transphobia, homophobia, bullying, hate speech, descriptions of panic and anxiety.
If/Then: If you liked these books, you will probably enjoy this one!
- Spellbound by Allie Therin
- Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears by Gregory L. Norris
- Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan
I received an ARC of Waking Up The Sun by Laura Bailo from NineStar Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.