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Omorphi - C. Kennedy
3.5 stars

That cover… Omorphi, or ‘pretty’ in Greek, is the perfect description of Christy Castle, a mysterious and mute new student at Michael Sattler’s high school. Picture the famous androgynous fashion model Andrej Pejić, who Michael has had a secret crush on, and you’re there. Long golden blond hair, aquamarine eyes, delicate and whippet thin, Christy fits the bill perfectly. Michael, senior sports stud and all-round good guy, has been longing for a pretty boyfriend, an ómorfi agóri, and just like Christy, he’s ready for love. Once they connect it should be sweet romance from there on.

Michael has a golden life. He is captain of the track team, has great friends, is an excellent student, has a scholarship to Oxford; he is a golden boy. His parents love and support him even after he came out to them, and his best friend Jake has always had his back, they’re like brothers, have known each other all their lives.

Christy is the exact opposite of Michael, he has no loving parents, has fled his home country, Greece, escaping years of horrific abuse which have left him physically scarred and mentally traumatized. He’s the new kid at school and his pretty looks now make him a target for vicious attacks by homophobic school bullies. Michael champions this lost boy and becomes something of a mentor and guide. As they get to know each other it becomes clear that a simple high school fling is not what this is about.

I like pieces of this story: I like the idea of Christy finding his voice and his inner strength; I like his forging a friendship with the brilliant Michael; I like how their physical relationship is handled given Christy’s sexual abuse, how Michael teaches Christy about love and respect. I like the author’s heartfelt mission to inform about treatment of children who have been physically and mentally abused. We are walked every step of the way through Christy’s treatment for his abuse. It is obvious the author is informed in the subject or has done their research.

We are witness to every twist and turn in Christy and Michael’s journey. Their story enters the realm of the fairytale… By the end, Christy and Michael have rallied the queer students in their high school to thwart the bullies, have survived at least three attempts on their lives, and outwitted the police forces of two countries in hunting the very, very evil bad guys intent on harming Christy. Michael is told by various professionals several times that he should be a doctor/psychologist/lawyer… he can do no wrong. Christy is very lucky indeed to have him as his protector and avenger.

My main issue with Omorphi is that it gets bigger than life and blown into soap opera proportions. And there is a lot going on, it is way too long, would have been better at half the length. Yet, you can’t mistake the careful, loving work that has gone into it. I know that many will love this hard-edged yet sweet love story about overcoming great odds. I recommend this for those readers. Be warned, though, that there are descriptions of horrific abuse and rape. My rating is for the premise and the love story even if I couldn’t completely get behind the packaging.

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