The only reason this book became a blip on my radar was because when I started my blog, the author was one of the first people to comment on it. Being noisy, I wandered to Amazon.com to check out the first chapter, and was gripped. There was no way I could read that opening and not read the rest. So, I bought the book, loaded it to Beth’s Kindle for PC, and promised myself I could read it once I got Fairy Queenready and released. We know how thatparticular project is going, but I still kept putting off reading Gods of the Asphalt. I realized this weekend that that was just silly. (I also bought a second copy to toss on my Kindle, so I didn’t have to just borrow it from Beth’s)
This is not the sort of book I normally read. I’ll admit that I read the whole thing with an eye toward the fantastical – would this be when the author introduces some supernatural element to the story? What about at that point? Gods of the Asphalt is what it claims to be: a story about standing ones ground, about finding oneself, about growing up and becoming an adult. The main character is the younger of two teenage brothers who, having been raised by their father and bounced back and forth all over the country at the whim of their flighty, decidedly unmaternal mother, decides enough is enough, he wants to put down roots and get into college. A scholarship is his only way in, and time is running out, so he opts to stay with his grandfather and play basketball.
Yes. Boys and basketball. Now, I can handle boys. Growing up I had more male friends than female friends, and my female friends lacked the need to play the social games girls seem to play. My male friends weren’t super athletic, but I can also handle sports. I played softball for eight years, after all. Still, I like reading about sports about as much as I like watching sports; that is, not at all. So. No supernatural elements, lots of boys and a decent amount of sports*. Why did I keep reading?
Because H.E. Ellis’s writing is amazing. It is clear and it is crisp and it cuts through bullshit and gets to the heart of the matter. Because stories of everyone doing the best they can and still failing short will always touch my heart. Because sibling love and devotion makes me miss my brothers, and makes me sad that they couldn’t have what these two brothers had. (Too many years between them) Because by the end of chapter one I had to know what was going to happen to Sawyer and River, and I had to see what else H.E. Ellis was going to inflict upon them.
I can’t even do a, “if you like ______ you’ll like Gods of the Asphalt because I never read books like this. Never the less, you should go read it. Family angst and manning up and falling in love and a wee bit of getting the shit kicked out of you. Good times, even without the dragons.
*The sports didn’t really take over the story at all; one saw more Quidditch in Harry Potter books than we saw basketball in this one, so don’t let the presence of basketball dissuade you from checking this book out.
Also, go read her blog.