Work Boots and Tees
Work Boots and Tees, Deep Secrets and Hope 5, Harmony Ink Press, October 15, 2015
MM Good Book Reviews gives Work Boots and Tees four hearts.
Prism Book Alliance gives Work Boots and Tees 4.5 stars and says, “Highly recommended. So very, very highly recommended.” The site also named Work Boots and Tees one of their October recommended reads!
In advance of the book’s release, Kirkus Reviews has reviewed Work Boots and Tees and says, “The issue of how to move forward after one has caused serious harm is an important one, and though not all readers will agree that Jim should receive the benefit of the doubt from new acquaintances, his remorse here is genuine and sympathetic.”
When Jim Frankel looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a sixteen-year-old boy. He sees a monster.
Weeks after being released from a month in juvenile detention, Jim is still trying to come to terms with the realization that he sexually assaulted two girls. He believed everything was consensual—until the day he was arrested. Now he’s served his time as far as the law is concerned, but nothing will erase Jim’s knowledge that he’s no better than the man who molested him at age six.
With his parents unwilling to take him in, Jim moves from Massachusetts to Michigan to live with Delia, his father’s cousin. She offers him a home, a job, and a chance at a new start. Jim spends his time helping Delia at her art supply shop and trying to avoid anyone who might have somehow learned of his crime. When Jim meets Man-Shik Park, he can’t accept Manny’s friendship. But Jim’s attempt to push Manny away might lead to the end of his new life before it’s even begun.
I sat on the arm of the couch. Delia glared at me but didn’t tell me to move. She sat on the middle cushion and twisted her fingers together in her lap.
“I was not angry with you for helping that lady and her kid,” she said slowly. “I was worried. You got arrested for doing something to girls your own age. You didn’t hurt any young kids, and I don’t believe you ever would. But between you being on the registry and being on probation, I’m not clear on the restrictions about you being around little kids. I need to talk to your probation officer again and ask him flat out.”
“You do that,” I muttered.
“Lose the attitude,” she snapped. “I’m not your enemy. I should have sorted this out before you started working at the shop. That’s on me, not you. I didn’t accuse you of anything. I was trying to protect you. I might have done it wrong, but that was all I meant to do.”
I took a deep breath and let it out nice and slow. That was about the only useful thing I’d gotten out of detention. How to breathe to calm myself down when my temper shot up.
“I didn’t take the ride from Manny in case his sister was in the van,” I said. “Or in case his parents check the registry or something.”
“I wondered if it was something like that.” Delia sighed. “You shouldn’t have to always be afraid of people knowing about your past. Unfortunately that’s the reality. People aren’t going to care exactly what you did or who you did it to. They’ll see your name on that site and assume—”
“I’m a monster,” I said.
She hesitated, then nodded. “Yeah. I’m afraid that’s exactly what they’ll think.”
“Maybe they’re right.” I leaned forward and put my elbows on my knees. “I think they are.”
“I don’t,” Delia said quietly. “You’re someone who messed up pretty spectacularly. Not a monster. You’re someone who needs to learn the right way to act, and from what I’ve seen since you got out here, you’re doing a pretty good job of it.”
I started to argue with her, then remembered what Pat had said. History had already happened, but people could change. History didn’t have to repeat.
“I don’t know what to do.” My voice cracked. “You tell me to make friends, but every time I talk to someone, I’m going to wonder what they’ve heard about me. I can’t have friends because if they know what I did, they wouldn’t want to be around me.”
“Manny told me he hopes you and he can become friends,” she said.
“I just said I don’t need friends!” I looked at her. “Think about it. We become friends, and then he sees something online. He gets worried about his sister or decides I’m evil or something. Then we aren’t friends anymore. I’d rather not be friends in the first place than have it end that way.”
“You don’t know for sure what would happen.” She held up her hand. “Let’s get today sorted out first, and then if you still want to talk about the other stuff, we can. I just want to make sure we’re good first.”
I didn’t have a clue whether we were “good” or not. It wasn’t up to me. She was the one I’d bailed on. And the one who’d gotten the phone call from Pat.
“Like I said, I’m going to double-check what restrictions you have as far as working at the shop,” she said. “If there aren’t any, good. If there are, I’ll find something else for you to do. Jim, I’m sorry today went the way it did.”
“Me too,” I mumbled.
“Next time, please don’t run out on me.” She paused. “I was worried. I didn’t know where you’d gone until Manny came into the shop. And even then I wasn’t sure where you ended up until I heard from Pat. How’d you manage to walk so far without freezing?”
“I wasn’t so cold when I was walking.” I tapped my fingers on my legs. “I got cold sitting here, but I don’t have a key.”
“I’ll get you one tomorrow. Should have done it already.” She stood. “I’m going to make cocoa. Do you want some?”
“Sure.” I didn’t, but since she was trying to be nice, it wouldn’t hurt to go along with it.