Cephalopod Coffeehouse April 2018–SHELTER THE SEA

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

Hi there! This week I’ve tried to focus on reviews for books that had been released several months, maybe a year back, and I knew I wanted to feature this release from April 2017 from Heidi Cullinan. SHELTER THE SEA is a sequel to CARRY THE OCEAN, my favorite book of 2015.

About the book:
Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.
Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

My Review:
Emmett and Jeremey are two young adults who have disabilities, as we would term them. Emmett is a brilliant man “on the spectrum” while Jeremey has crippling depression. They are making a life for themselves, with the help of assisted living, in The Roosevelt an assisted living facility. Emmett works at an outside company, coding and doing analysis, while Jeremey works in The Roosevelt, helping in the care of a paraplegic resident. The Roosevelt is a good place to live, with adequate staff and compassionate care, but it’s in trouble financially and may close if a bill circulating the Iowa legislature grants more funding to corporate-owned care facilities. Despite their personal struggles, these guys embark on a mission to save it.

SHELTER THE SEA is an intimate look into the world of politics, health care, and marginalized persons. The disabled residents of The Roosevelt are humanized in ways that most people don’t see. Some of these folks are non-verbal, but they have devices and strategies to reveal their inner thoughts and fears. Emmett is the appointed leader, and he’s striving so hard to save The Roosevelt because he knows if it folds Jeremey will suffer, and Jeremey is Emmett’s heart; he’ll do anything to spare Jeremey more pain. The campaign to save their home takes on a larger-than-life momentum, and highlights the uphill battle “the people” have against corporate money and interest when it comes to legislation. It’s an indictment of the American political system in many ways, focusing on pay-for-play and healthcare that is more about money than care.

There is a quiet romance here, with Emmett making big steps to solidify his relationship with Jeremey, whose struggles with depression are overwhelming, at times. Still, there is so much light here. The Blues Brothers, yes that old movie, plays a role in that it’s a comfort to Emmett and Jeremey and becomes a part of their platform to raise awareness for kids and adults who need full-time care. And that mission is valiant. It got to me on so many levels. Seriously, lots of ugly tears shed while reading this one. Because it’s written like real life, not like a romance. There is struggle, and disappointment, and dusting one’s self off and starting over when it seems there’s no chance of success. It’s an amazing read, that also has happy moments and tender moments, and transcendent moments. Emmett and Jeremey feel so real as characters that I was tempted to scan YouTube to see their viral videos. Another book is planned in this series, and I’ll be reading that one as soon as it comes out. This book sat on my TBR–payed for and downloaded for nearly a year. I was too afraid I’d be let down by the sequel, and whoa. I was just blown away again. I think readers will love Emmett and Jeremey and all the residents of The Roosevelt, especially if they know any persons with disabilities.

Interested? You can find SHELTER THE SEA on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Heidi CullinanAbout the Author:
Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and teenaged daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in. Be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers.