Author: Mario Kai Lipinski
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Shane and Matt
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.
Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?
Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.
Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.
For those who love the young adult sub-genre, Symbols is an excellent story to pick up. From the first page, I found myself drawn into the world created by the, new to me, author. I loved the characters, yes, they could be cookie cutter in the way that Matt is small and picked on, while Shane is the big tough scary one. However, while we may have seen characters with similar descriptions before, these two have their own personalities that help make them stand out.
Matt has learned to live with the bullying he faces in school, going on alone without even letting on to his parents. He is worried when he hears the rumors floating around about the new kid, and scarred shitless when he finally sees him. Matt has every reason to be afraid as Shane is bigger than any other student at the school. His size and tattooed covered body screams thug, and the rumors saying he killed someone at his last school do not help. But, Shane is a bit of a teddy bear who will protect anyone he cares about, even at a cost to himself. While they notice each other earlier in the day, they really do not meet until Shane comes to Matt’s rescue. Matt is unsure how to react to Shane and cannot help worrying what the cost will be for the other student’s aide.
It is easy to see that Matt suffers from PTSD due to all the bullying he has gone through. I like that Shane realizes this and, in his own way, tries to help Matt. But Matt is not the only one suffering. Shane has many issues to overcome as well. There are the scars that are the result of a car accident when he was younger, he has covered them with tattoos which unfortunately helps flesh out his thug status. Then there are the events of last school year and the reason he is starting over in a new place.
Both of their issues cause a lot of misunderstandings between them. More than once I felt myself close to tears and wanting to hug one, if not both, of them. I want to say that after a rocky start their relationship flows smoothly and everything changes for them, however, that is not the case as this is a story that is full of angst. It is also one that I will be reading again.
For me Symbols is one story that I will re-read many times. the characters and the story line not only grabbed my attention from the beginning but stayed with me even after the story ended. I will also be keeping my eye out for more books by this author.
Reviewed By: Lydia
Click HERE to enter the Dreamspinner Press Homepage