On Davis Row – N.R. Walker
Nearing the end of a suspended jail sentence should unlock a brighter future for CJ Davis, only the chip on his shoulder is as hard to shift as his bad reputation. Born into a family of career criminals who live down Davis Road, an address the cops have dubbed Davis Row, his name alone is like a rap sheet that makes optimism impossible.
Brand-new parole officer Noah Huxley is determined to see the good in men like CJ. After all, he knows firsthand that bad things can happen to good people. His colleagues mock his doe-eyed optimism, but Noah soon sees CJ’s bad attitude and bravado are weapons he uses to keep people at a distance.
Both men know one simple mistake can change a life forever. At first glance, they might seem to be polar opposites. Yet underneath, they’re not that different at all.
My god, that was beautiful!
Right after I finished this book, I had to stand up and pace around the house because I was sooo high. I am not an emotional person and it takes a lot to make me feel things but this book!
I just had to root really hard for CJ. He was dealt a really shitty hand. Born into a family of criminals, didn’t graduate from school, had to put up with abuse, had to cope with illiteracy and deal with the stigma that comes with his name. Through out all this, he tries really hard to get by along with Pops, his grandfather who raise him. Pops has emphysema. His dad is in and out of jail. The asshole has also been abusing CJ since he was a child. Everybody assumes CJ is as bad as all the Davis before him, but CJ’s boss, Mr. Barese would be the first one to tell you, “he’s a good boy.”
Noah is a rookie parole officer. Still enthusiastic and optimistic about making a difference. The great thing about Noah is that he never lost the spark. He really believed not only in CJ but in all his parolees. AND *stage whisper* he smells really good!
Bloody hell. I wanted to hug him again. “You’ll nail this. You watch. You’ll pass everything and the only thing you’ll be left wondering about is why you didn’t do it sooner.”
When he looked up, his dark eyes were vulnerable, like the true CJ Davis was exposed within them. “Because ain’t no one believed in me before now.
There were ethically murky lines between them and though they dip their toes across once in a while, I love them for sticking to the rule. The rule being they become officially boyfriends the minute CJ’s parole ends, unofficially is another matter. Thus begins the delicious anticipation, a whole lot of USTs and the goddamn countdown that made me a messy bundle of paranoia because Pops might wheeze his last breath, CJ might descend into a downward spiral, Noah might fail CJ, the dad might beat the living crap out of CJ just because, things might blow up their faces, the system might screw them and so on because something will jinx this, I just know…!!!
So I breathed a sigh of relief when, among other things, Pops kept breathing.
It was so uplifting to see CJ gain his confidence and a little bit of happiness day by day until the time he was finally free. Noah’s sincerity really impressed me. He kept assuring CJ that no matter what happens between them he would still help him with everything. And I know he really would.
I love the list of firsts. CJ has missed out on a lot of things, the kind of things people take for granted like being able to read, getting a hug or having a driver’s license. Noah was his first in a lot of things. My favorite were the hugs.
He was rigid, uneasy, but he didn’t recoil, and he didn’t tell me to fuck off.
“You can hug me back, you know.”
Then I realised that maybe no one had ever bloody hugged him before either. Pops was a great guy but none of the Davis clan seemed overly affectionate. Without pulling away, I said, “I’ve wanted to hug you for a while.”
Still, with his arms by his sides, he asked, “Why?”
“Because sometimes people hug as a way of saying things are gonna be okay.”
I’ll hug you too, CJ!
This book is full of emotions but it’s not sappy. It’s also one of the most emotionally satisfying books I have read this year. The slow-burn and the chemistry were amazing. That last chapter! I got goosebumps and a pleasant case of hangover.
A solid 5-star book, no doubt about it.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect