Us People by Maxwell Gruber
Published on January 1, 2018 by Clovercroft Publishing
I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
How far is a person willing to go to escape their own personal demons -- the bottle, a drug, possibly a vacation? A past mired with trauma and heartbreak, Sam Case seeks what he believes will be the safety of the streets. A place to escape the demons that once haunted him and tugged at the deepest parts of his mind. Struggling to survive with the aid of his best friend Cam, a mentally unstable veteran, Sam finds solace amongst the chaos. Initially an escape from his past, the horrors of insanity and heartbreak coax him back towards confrontation. Sam must make an impossible choice – a stigmatized imprisonment or the freedom of the streets.
When I received the query asking me to review Us People, I almost said no. My TBR is like 6,000,000,000 feet tall and I'm only 5'7". But there was this little voice in my head saying that I would absolutely regret not reading this one. So, I accepted the query. Turns out that little voice in my head knows what it's talking about!
Us People is not for the faint of heart. To get through this book, you have to be willing to experience every emotion in the book. But, it is definitely more pain, violence, and anger than it is happy fluffy love bunnies. Gruber took the chance to smack us upside the head with the cold and dark reality of the world and he succeeded. There are times when this book physically hurts.
At first, I abhorred the overly simplistic writing style. I was expecting something with a little more artistic flow. The more I read about Sam and Cam and their adventures on the streets, the reasoning behind the styling finally slapped me in the face. This book is written simply because on the street, Sam and Cam have to live simply. They don't get to take time paying attention to artsy fartsy things. They live. They search for food in trash cans. They panhandle. That's all there is. This simplicity is demonstrated by Gruber's writing style and brings a whole new level of elegance to the story he pens.
While Sam may be the main character, Cam was definitely my favorite. He took on the role of Sam's protector in such a harsh lifestyle. It's hard to say much more about Cam's relationship with Sam without spoiling too much. I will say this, "Curse you, Gruber! You know what you did."
I just wanted to hug Sam. There is no freaking way an eighteen year old kid should go through everything that he does before and during this book. I know that there's no way a hug could fix everything, but it would be a good start.
Gruber states that he wrote this book to bring attention to the homelessness issue. He does exactly that. The author has done his research and makes sure to discuss not only the need for shelter, food, clothes, and water but the prevalence of mental illness among homeless individuals.
The biggest thing that I took issue with was that during some of the flashbacks, it wasn't obvious that I was reading a flashback. Every time this happened, I found a very disorienting interruption to the plot and it took me a few moments to get myself back into the flow of the plot. Thankfully, this doesn't happen very often.
Like I said, this book hurts. It shows reality for what it is. I was impressed by such powerful writing.