Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.75 / 5 stars)
Dean Turner has been living a good life: he has the best friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and a loving family. But one day, when he catches his best friend bullying one of his classmates, his life unravels. Suddenly, he finds himself questioning not just his relationships, but also his own sexuality. Will he make the right choices, or be taken in by the dark shadows haunting his thoughts?
A coming of age story with a snarky protagonist is always one to catch my attention. But this is a dark story…relevant, but dark. It is fitting that I read this after reading Boy Queen by George Lester, which focuses on almost an opposite perspective of LGBTQ+ kids. Where Robin in Boy Queen has his support network, Dean in Purple Shadows does not. I think it is so important, whether you are a part of the community or not, to read these different type of perspectives.
But as I said, this story is dark. So before I go further in my review I would like to add a content warning for language, sexual situations, homophobia, homicide, and suicide.
As I mentioned above, this story gives us bone chilling glance into how LGBTQ+ kids are treated daily. First, we see it through Dean’s eyes as a bystander: Jack, the unpopular kid in school, is victim to relentless bullying. Then, as Dean begins to discover his own sexuality, which he begins to show evidence on earlier in the story, he becomes victim to this same fear. He doesn’t want people to find out, especially after he uncovers his fathers own bigotry. This fear ultimately becomes his downfall, in a heartbreaking moment that will leave you crying.
DT Moorhouse really captures our attention with Dean’s narrative. It is written how you expect a teenager to speak – snarky, often making side remarks and zoning out – which is both a plus and a minus. While often it really helped the narrative, it prevented us from getting to know some of the other characters as Dean is often in his own head. We see everything how he perceive it, so some of his friends, or his family, seem flat. But, it also gives us a glimpse into the confusion around his sexuality, and the decision he has to make along the way.
Granted, I do wish that by exploring Dean’s thought, we got to see more of his self doubt and fear. This would have made some of his decisions more impactful, and helped make what he did seem more tragic and less surprising. Since the story is short, only so much could be allotted to this self exploration, but it might have been something to really carry this narrative to the top.
This is a book though that people should read. It’s an important story, and one all too common. I recommend you check it out when you have a chance. Perhaps it will make you consider your actions a bit more…and be kinder along the way.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What’s it about?
ONE AVERAGE TEENAGER
Dean Turner is your everyday, small town teenager. Good friends✔ Girlfriend✔ Happy life✔
ONE KIND ACT
Until one day he stops a kid in his school from being bullied.
A TRAGIC MESST
This kind, simple act turns Dean’s world upside down and he soon finds himself thrown headfirst into a world he knows nothing about and having to deal with a devastating situation he can see no escape from