Angels of Mercy: Elliot took me inside the head of an intelligent high school senior who uses his vocabulary, and mouth, to smokescreen the hell out of anyone who feels threatening. And, when you’re the school’s visible candidate for the scrawny gay boy ribbon, everyone feels like a threat.
Elliot’s reaction when the school’s heart-throb quarterback comes on to him is a beautiful smear of desire, denial, and a search for the hidden camera. Marco is persistent in all things, and he keeps working to prove the validity of his feelings to Elliot. When Elliot finally gives Marco a chance, the young men begin their secret relationship. Marco needs to stay in the closet through the end of the football season. Elliot needs to stay out of the crosshairs of, oh, just about everybody.
What struck me about this work is the adherence to Elliot’s point of view. The title character lives in his own head where his distraught beliefs about what people see in him color everything he does. The author paints an emotionally wrought iron border around the misperceptions of teen self-image and uses Elliot’s skewed world view to let the reader know there’s something deeper going on.
And there IS something deeper going on. I’m anticipating the next book because I’m keenly interested in Marco’s story.
If there was something that didn’t sit well with me, it was the way Elliot related to his mother. Elliot claims there’s past justification for his brusque and sometimes abrasive behavior toward her. Yet in the narrative we never see her be anything other than a supportive single (separated) mom who loves the gay son she may not always understand. I’m curious to see if there’s more explanation in the next book, or if I am just chalking it up to raging teenage protestations of unfairness that are often directed at parent figures.
Overall, Angels of Mercy: Elliot is a very masterful blend of wild emotion, cerebral questioning, and teen self-awareness as two boys deal with their love in the unforgiving high school environment.