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At the age of eight Brian Lackey is found bleeding under the crawl space of his house, having endured something so traumatic that he cannot remember an entire five–hour period of time.

During the following years he slowly recalls details from that night, but these fragments are not enough to explain what happened to him, and he begins to believe that he may have been the victim of an alien encounter. Neil McCormick is fully aware of the events from that summer of 1981. Wise beyond his years, curious about his developing sexuality, Neil found what he perceived to be love and guidance from his baseball coach. Now, ten years later, he is a teenage hustler, a terrorist of sorts, unaware of the dangerous path his life is taking. His recklessness is governed by idealized memories of his coach, memories that unexpectedly change when Brian comes to Neil for help and, ultimately, the truth.

Topics: New York City, Abuse, Sexual Abuse, LGBTQ, Prostitution, Coming of Age, Trauma, Drugs, Sexuality, Dark, Erotic, Bildungsroman, and Debut

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061737190
List price: $7.99
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Enthralling read. Initially I was going to throw it down in disgust as I wasn't quite sure what I was reading. However, I'm glad I gave it more reading time as it didn't go where I thought it was going ie, down the titillating, child porn, abuse route. It didn't and it was much much more.This was an uncomfortable, and sometimes darn-right sickening view into the characters lives and how the 2 abused characters came to terms with their individual experiences of abuse. I genuinely felt for the damaged personalities, even the so called 'bad boy'. I can't help believe that the author must be writing from experience or he has done some rather in depth research as it is all too realistic IMHO. OK, so what's UFO's got to do with it ... well all I'll say is I had 'a friend', no honestly, who had a 'loosely' similar experience so I really do 'get' this. You'll just have to read it to see if you do too. My friend? She's fine as far as I know but we lost touch a few years ago but I know it wasn't until, very like the story, 15 years before she realised the truth. It will most definitely not be a book for everyone as it has child sexual abuse, homosexuality with explicit sex content.more
i thought the movie was better than the book - mostly due to the lead actor but whatev.i like the roaming point of view. heim does very well in his debut. i liked in awe more than this book. if you're interested in a similar topic, read that book also!more
Very well written with compelling characters and a fantastic sense of place. The end feels both perfect and not enough--after all that these characters have gone through, I kind of want to see how they go on, not just get a striking image of partial resolution.more
This is probably one of my favorite books. It takes a very disturbing topic - child molestation - and weaves a very intriguing narrative around it. It deals with two boys who were both molested by the same man, their baseball coach, and shows how each deal with it. Neil seems to have been desensitized to sex altogether, while Brian loses his memory and is obsessed with the theory that he was abducted by aliens. Brian begins to remember things, and Neil begins to feel again, with the help of their friends. Eventually, of course, the two narrators must meet and come to terms with their shared encounter with their coach.Overall, I really enjoyed the book, although it was a bit morbid at times. I highly recommend it, and I also recommend the movie, which I actually saw first. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an excellent Neil.more
Two eight year old boys are molested by their Little League baseball coach and take different paths to discover the truth.Neil becomes a teenage gay hustler with a taste for older men. He has few friends and fewer confidants. Brian 'loses' any trace of what happened with the coach and believes he was a victim of a UFO abduction. They seem to be on an eventual collision course in search of the truth.Brian uncovers the true events on that terrible day long ago and Neil's participation. Neil discovers that maybe sex with the coach was not quite the idealized, romantic encounters that he remembers. Both young men seem to be at a crucial point in their lives. How can they reconcile what happened so long ago and how it affects their current attitudes towards friends and love.The graphic subject matter is not for the easily disturbed. Graphic sex, language and violent situations occur throughout the story. But they are not meant to shock, but simply to allow us to experience as close as possible these events in both boys lives. Mr Heim does a masterful job. Both sides of the story are told with equal import. Neither seems sensationalized.Unfortunately, the subject matter may limit the audience to read this book. I found it cathartic, a triumph of the human spirit in spite of some terrible events. The end comes too soon. I want to see both these young men move forward with their lives having finally put the past behind them.more
The story of two boys who share a common experience as children. They grow up in very different ways but both were incredibly affected by that experience.more
Some spoilers. I don't know what to say about this novel that won't make me sound like a gushing advertisement. But to put it in bluntly, I loved it. I'll try to detail what I liked about it sans the gushing. Well first, let's talk about the characters. I love well-rounded characters; they're the most important things about a book for me. I couldn't have been more happy with the development of the two main characters, Brian and Neil. (Especially Neil. He was that sort of flawed, generally screwed up anti-hero that I love.) It's important for the main character to make me care, and Mysterious Skin went above and beyond: it gave me two protagonists that I could relate to. And not only were the main characters well drawn, but the secondary characters were also given their fair share of depth. (I'm thinking primarily of Eric, Wendy, and Deborah.) The characters developed in a way that was not only subtle but followed that cardinal rule of SHOWING NOT TELLING. I cannot tell you how many times I see a book in which the narrator comes right out and tells you he's shy, or tells you that he's a bad boy, or any number of traits. Mysterious Skin is one of those wonderful books that knows the reader doesn't need their hand held the whole way through. Another thing that helped connect me to this book--and this is probably one of the few times you'll hear me comment on this--was the setting. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who felt this while reading, but the descriptions of the setting gave the book a desolate feel. That's part of what grabbed me--the overall feel of the book was what separated separated this from a four star book. I think the author might have been going for a depressing aura to parallel the conflicts of the two protagonists. Whether he was or not, the setting did a lot for me in this book, which isn't something I would normally be saying. But the biggest part of the book was how the subject matter was handled. Child molestation isn't an easy topic to tackle but I applaud Heim on the fine job he did with his portrayal. What's more impressive, he showed the affects of the abuse in two very different adolescents. It's not an easy conflict to resolve (in fact, it's not something that CAN be resolved--more like accepted and overcome) and the most I can say is that Heim handled the subject excellently. I don't want to go further, not because I don't want to spoil things, but because the book is something that needs to speak for itself. And before I wrap up this review, I'd like to compliment Heim on his fine prose. Undoubtedly, I'll be picking up more of his novels.Who would I recommend this to? Everyone. It's worth the money and time.more
I saw the movie first and it is also excellent. Explores, with great sensitivity and intelligence, the different survival journeys of two 10-year-old boys molested by the same baseball coach.more
I thought this book was extremely interesting. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the two main characters. Despite the fact that they went through the same ordeal as children, one chose to accept it and one chose to suppress it. The story of their meeting and coping together with the problem proved to be a very good read!more
Almost too painful to read. Extraordinarily honest.more
scott is brilliant, and my friend, and i love this dark, wise, and difficult book.more
Initially I found it confusing with the different characters relating the story (I know, I should read the chapter headings more carefully), but the developing tale gradually became interesting. As events began to come together, the characters really came to life, and the story became enthralling, and the finale very moving.more
Read all 13 reviews

Reviews

Enthralling read. Initially I was going to throw it down in disgust as I wasn't quite sure what I was reading. However, I'm glad I gave it more reading time as it didn't go where I thought it was going ie, down the titillating, child porn, abuse route. It didn't and it was much much more.This was an uncomfortable, and sometimes darn-right sickening view into the characters lives and how the 2 abused characters came to terms with their individual experiences of abuse. I genuinely felt for the damaged personalities, even the so called 'bad boy'. I can't help believe that the author must be writing from experience or he has done some rather in depth research as it is all too realistic IMHO. OK, so what's UFO's got to do with it ... well all I'll say is I had 'a friend', no honestly, who had a 'loosely' similar experience so I really do 'get' this. You'll just have to read it to see if you do too. My friend? She's fine as far as I know but we lost touch a few years ago but I know it wasn't until, very like the story, 15 years before she realised the truth. It will most definitely not be a book for everyone as it has child sexual abuse, homosexuality with explicit sex content.more
i thought the movie was better than the book - mostly due to the lead actor but whatev.i like the roaming point of view. heim does very well in his debut. i liked in awe more than this book. if you're interested in a similar topic, read that book also!more
Very well written with compelling characters and a fantastic sense of place. The end feels both perfect and not enough--after all that these characters have gone through, I kind of want to see how they go on, not just get a striking image of partial resolution.more
This is probably one of my favorite books. It takes a very disturbing topic - child molestation - and weaves a very intriguing narrative around it. It deals with two boys who were both molested by the same man, their baseball coach, and shows how each deal with it. Neil seems to have been desensitized to sex altogether, while Brian loses his memory and is obsessed with the theory that he was abducted by aliens. Brian begins to remember things, and Neil begins to feel again, with the help of their friends. Eventually, of course, the two narrators must meet and come to terms with their shared encounter with their coach.Overall, I really enjoyed the book, although it was a bit morbid at times. I highly recommend it, and I also recommend the movie, which I actually saw first. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an excellent Neil.more
Two eight year old boys are molested by their Little League baseball coach and take different paths to discover the truth.Neil becomes a teenage gay hustler with a taste for older men. He has few friends and fewer confidants. Brian 'loses' any trace of what happened with the coach and believes he was a victim of a UFO abduction. They seem to be on an eventual collision course in search of the truth.Brian uncovers the true events on that terrible day long ago and Neil's participation. Neil discovers that maybe sex with the coach was not quite the idealized, romantic encounters that he remembers. Both young men seem to be at a crucial point in their lives. How can they reconcile what happened so long ago and how it affects their current attitudes towards friends and love.The graphic subject matter is not for the easily disturbed. Graphic sex, language and violent situations occur throughout the story. But they are not meant to shock, but simply to allow us to experience as close as possible these events in both boys lives. Mr Heim does a masterful job. Both sides of the story are told with equal import. Neither seems sensationalized.Unfortunately, the subject matter may limit the audience to read this book. I found it cathartic, a triumph of the human spirit in spite of some terrible events. The end comes too soon. I want to see both these young men move forward with their lives having finally put the past behind them.more
The story of two boys who share a common experience as children. They grow up in very different ways but both were incredibly affected by that experience.more
Some spoilers. I don't know what to say about this novel that won't make me sound like a gushing advertisement. But to put it in bluntly, I loved it. I'll try to detail what I liked about it sans the gushing. Well first, let's talk about the characters. I love well-rounded characters; they're the most important things about a book for me. I couldn't have been more happy with the development of the two main characters, Brian and Neil. (Especially Neil. He was that sort of flawed, generally screwed up anti-hero that I love.) It's important for the main character to make me care, and Mysterious Skin went above and beyond: it gave me two protagonists that I could relate to. And not only were the main characters well drawn, but the secondary characters were also given their fair share of depth. (I'm thinking primarily of Eric, Wendy, and Deborah.) The characters developed in a way that was not only subtle but followed that cardinal rule of SHOWING NOT TELLING. I cannot tell you how many times I see a book in which the narrator comes right out and tells you he's shy, or tells you that he's a bad boy, or any number of traits. Mysterious Skin is one of those wonderful books that knows the reader doesn't need their hand held the whole way through. Another thing that helped connect me to this book--and this is probably one of the few times you'll hear me comment on this--was the setting. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who felt this while reading, but the descriptions of the setting gave the book a desolate feel. That's part of what grabbed me--the overall feel of the book was what separated separated this from a four star book. I think the author might have been going for a depressing aura to parallel the conflicts of the two protagonists. Whether he was or not, the setting did a lot for me in this book, which isn't something I would normally be saying. But the biggest part of the book was how the subject matter was handled. Child molestation isn't an easy topic to tackle but I applaud Heim on the fine job he did with his portrayal. What's more impressive, he showed the affects of the abuse in two very different adolescents. It's not an easy conflict to resolve (in fact, it's not something that CAN be resolved--more like accepted and overcome) and the most I can say is that Heim handled the subject excellently. I don't want to go further, not because I don't want to spoil things, but because the book is something that needs to speak for itself. And before I wrap up this review, I'd like to compliment Heim on his fine prose. Undoubtedly, I'll be picking up more of his novels.Who would I recommend this to? Everyone. It's worth the money and time.more
I saw the movie first and it is also excellent. Explores, with great sensitivity and intelligence, the different survival journeys of two 10-year-old boys molested by the same baseball coach.more
I thought this book was extremely interesting. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the two main characters. Despite the fact that they went through the same ordeal as children, one chose to accept it and one chose to suppress it. The story of their meeting and coping together with the problem proved to be a very good read!more
Almost too painful to read. Extraordinarily honest.more
scott is brilliant, and my friend, and i love this dark, wise, and difficult book.more
Initially I found it confusing with the different characters relating the story (I know, I should read the chapter headings more carefully), but the developing tale gradually became interesting. As events began to come together, the characters really came to life, and the story became enthralling, and the finale very moving.more
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