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Aaron (Survivor Stories #1)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  2,113 Ratings  ·  345 Reviews
I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college
Paperback, 238 pages
Published October 8th 2012 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 7th 2012)
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Grantos I wasn't exactly bothered by it but I did find it extremely odd as Spencer's main form of communication is sign language and lip reading. I thought…moreI wasn't exactly bothered by it but I did find it extremely odd as Spencer's main form of communication is sign language and lip reading. I thought that maybe they would have put him at the front and to the side, out of the way so no other students should be distracted and also insures that Spencer can choose whether or not he wanted to read lips or read sign.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Monique ~ Sinfully
Oct 16, 2012 Monique ~ Sinfully rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most emotional and hearbreakingly beautiful books I have had the pleasure to read in a long time! Outstanding!...


I am not sure I can even begin to explain or even do justice to the words of Ms. J. P. Baranby! This book touched my heart in so many ways. Being in the mind of Aaron, his soul so utterly and completely shattered was devastating! but the heartwarming journey for his chance at 'normal' and the two families involved, who themselves were stretched to breaking point w
♔ Jaela ♊ Killer ⚔ QUEEN
Aaron (the book and the character both ) broke my heart. So heart-wrenching. Why do I keep doing this to myself? I cannot stop reading books full of angst.

I can't imagine where Aaron finds the strength to get up every day and deal with his life after all that has happened to him. This book is so realistic. It describes perfectly the internal "war" that's happening inside Aaron. All his fears and struggles.

I felt/feel so sorry for him. I know this is fiction, but the things described in this bo
Lisa Henry
This book was one of the most hard-hitting emotionally I’ve read in a while, but sometimes it’s okay to stay up late, crying over your kindle and wondering if there is any junk food in the house, right?

Two years after being brutally attacked and left for dead, Aaron is a psychological wreck. He can barely function. He doesn’t interact with his own family, and has traumatic panic attacks if he’s touched. Before the attack (view spoiler)
Oct 19, 2012 Meep rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no-one
Shelves: not-for-me
This book doesn’t work for me, in fact it got me upset and almost angry for all the wrong reasons. The authors speciality is very obviously in computer technology and not counselling, but if choosing such an emotive subject as a characters rape to be central in a work of fiction, I feel it should be thought out carefully and treated respectfully rather than for shock value.

At one point there is a whole page of what I assume is coding, I don’t expect that in a work of fiction, I don’t know coding
Rating: 4,5 stars

"Everything in its place—everything except him—he had no place anymore. He didn't live; he didn't fit; he simply existed."

Painful, heartbreaking, sweet, wonderful, sad, hopeful... Aaron is such a fantastic story about two boys struggling in different ways, who comes together and helps healing each other. I was crying in no time at all, and my heart was aching so bad, for Aaron especially, throughout the entire book. It was horrible to find out the horrors he'd been through...

The author has no idea what being deaf is. Yes, I'm going to break the general mold and talk about this. Why? It's an issue that hits too close to home. You can skip it if you want:

(view spoiler)
Mandy*reads obsessively*
This is a hard book to categorize, it is touching, beautiful, heartbreaking, meaningful, tragic and hopeful.
It isn't in anyway a romance imo, it's more of a journey that Aaron is on to find his way back into a life that had been stolen from him.
Aaron's POV is difficult and painful at times, but I never felt any gratuitous angst or drama was included, it was just a hard place to be.
Finding and loving Spencer is just one of the stepping stones on that path, and I'm glad, because as much as I w
Trisha Harrington
J.P. Barnaby did a wonderful job with this book. Aaron was a book I was extremely nervous to read. Two difficult issues were dealt with in this, both were tackled head on and done very well. The abuse and rape character versus the deaf character felt very natural. I enjoyed this read and have read it a few times since.

Arron was trying to deal with issues he has since an attack that left him psychologically scarred and his best friend dead. I loved the way he was portrayed, everything was a battl
Kaje Harper
Feb 20, 2014 Kaje Harper rated it really liked it
Somehow lost my original review of this one.

This is a very intense story about survival, PTSD, and reclaiming life from the effects of severe trauma. It pulls you into Aaron's world of darkness from the start. I really liked Spencer, and his own issues and progress, and how his deafness played into the dynamics. I appreciated that Aaron's parents seemed like real people, not perfect, not evil, just doing what they felt was best, coping with a child who is hurting so much, but so hard to reach.
Mar 30, 2014 Gina rated it really liked it
I was looking for an emotional read and i definitely got it with this story. This story was intense, heartbreaking and highlighted the power of friendship. This story for me is also a reminder that surviving a horrific event or illness means more then just existing and breathing, it means finding the strength to live again.

In this story of Aaron Downing, two years after a horrific event that left his best friend dead and him scarred physically and emotionally, he is barely existing. Having done
JustJen "Miss Conduct"
Oct 10, 2012 JustJen "Miss Conduct" rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mm, ebook
I am giving this 5 stars right off the bat because I stayed up all night reading it, couldn't get to the end fast enough, and when I got there, I still wanted more.

Now, for the story. I felt the beginning was dragging on a little bit. We learned about how Aaron feels about his life now, and it seemed to be told over and over, until things started moving again when he went to college that first day. Then, things rolled along nicely. Poor, sweet Aaron. I was scouring the pages for details of his a
Awilk -never sleeps-
What can I say. I started this after the last book I was reading annoyed me so much I gave up, and then couldn't move until I had finished this.
I do like my books steamy, but with this masterpiece, I didn't miss it. The emotions that I felt while reading this were all over the place. I cried buckets for what Aaron had been through, I held my breath as he took the first steps with Spencer, and I screamed with frustration with Aaron's misguided mother.
This book will stay with me for a long time, a
Tiya Rosa
It's Jake Bass on the cover. Jake fucking Bass. I can't NOT buy it. I don't care what that says about my gay porn addiction and how it affects my life choices 'cause Jake Bass.

Oh, and the book has pretty good reviews so there's that.
Dec 19, 2014 Alona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidnapping-dark, m-m
4.5 stars.
This book is so painful, yet beautiful and tender.
It is not without flaws at all, but these flaws did not put me off enough, to give it less stars than it deserves.
T.A. Webb
Oct 03, 2012 T.A. Webb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the honor to read an early copy of this wonderful book.

Aaron is a broken young man, physically, spiritually and emotionally. He's the survivor of a vicious attack, the details of which are slowly revealed over the course of the book. He's frozen in time, uncertain if he even wants to live.

Then something happens that forces him out of his paralysis, and he dredges up the little courage he can find and dares to venture into the world again. Back to school.

I don't want to venture too far into
Aaron was a touching romance, no doubt, but I`m not so easily sidetracked by gentle kisses, tears and deep emotions.
When I read a book dealing with serious issues - in this case PTSD after being brutally attacked (Aaron) and dealing with everyday life when being deaf (Spencer) - I want to have the feeling that authors know what they are talking about, because - what do I know about severe trauma therapy, medication and how a character feels in the aftermath of an attack - next to nothing.

Bitchie!!! on her behind
Jun 19, 2014 Bitchie!!! on her behind rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bitchie!!! on her behind by: Katie
This was a very well written, but heartbreaking story. Aaron has been a shell of himself for the past two years, ever since he was attacked and his best friend murdered. Now he lives with nightmares and panic attacks, and can't stand to be touched. After being homeschooled, he's finished high school, and has agreed to take one class at the local college, where he meets Spencer. Spencer is deaf and has issues with other people. They manage to communicate through email and chat, and eventually bec ...more
Oct 10, 2012 Susan65 rated it it was amazing
I know I am a sucker for damaged men but damn this was harsh. Aaron is a beautiful tragedy and I was unsure if this story could possibly have any kind of happy ending. As luck would have it, he meets Spencer. A wonderful, patient, loving and deaf young man who has dealt with his own issues but still has enough love and compassion in his heart for Aaron. Two of the saddest but sweetest guys ever.

Aaron's mom was amazing in how she was always there for her damaged son, but her inflexibilty at the e
One star for the cover, one star for the story.

I'll probably be back with a review. Until then, you can check out Meep's review.

May 02, 2016 Lori rated it it was amazing
Shelves: series, 2016
4.75 stars worth of angst, hurt, romance, love, friendship and comfort.
Eli Easton
Feb 13, 2013 Eli Easton rated it it was amazing
Wow! I do not like angst, so I have been avoiding this book for awhile. I decided to dig in because it's BOM in the m/m romance group. I'm very impressed that the author was able to grab me from the very beginning and never lost me. I stayed up til 1 a.m. last night reading and finished it this morning. I really loved it. Despite the dark subject matter, I always felt really drawn to the characters. I think it was Spencer, who had a lighter storyline throughout, despite his deafness, that made A ...more
Rissa (an M/M kinda Girl!!)
This book was soooooooooooo amazing! Heartbreaking & Emotional with bits of Hope & Sweetness!

We start with Aaron...he's been thru a horrible & tragic event that has left him almost to a point where he is unable to function, he's just there... he just exists. He meets Spencer whom (view spoiler) is one of the most compassionate, sweet & loving young men I've had the pleasure of reading about. These young men
How do you review a book like this?
Have you ever watched, seen, or heard something so touching that you just wept? That's what this book was for me.
I'll have to come back and write a full review for it later because I'm not sure I can right now.
But it's honestly one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.
Nov 25, 2013 Cory rated it really liked it
Great book dealing with a hard topic. This is the first book I've read from this author and I will definitely be reading more.

Aaron had a life and traumatic experience two years ago and he is pretty much a walking corpse. He has flashbacks, panic attacks, etc. and is basically just medicating his life away as he doesn't know how to deal with what happened to him. I felt so bad for him and my heart ached for what his family was going through.

When Spencer came into the picture things slowly start
Nov 29, 2012 Bookwatcher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brave readers, because this story is sooooo hard to read!
Oh damn.... I'm spechless
Don't read it if you are sad and a little depressed. I'm not kidding.
This book is marvelous but also horrible. I struggle so much to end it.
And cry so much to reach the last page
5 stars but I will never again read it. Some stories are too intense for me... It's certainly a perfect book, about a broken boy trying to be alive after the violence he suffer.. It's such a perfect book I suffer with him, and his pain is too much for me to feel again

Seriously, 5 stars but I hav
Veronica /  V
This story sure looks sad.


I'm not going to attempt to write a review, not even my Spanish /English dictionary will help me to write a review this story truly deserved.
I just going to say, it was beautiful, stunning, heartbroken..the author did an amazing job!!!
This is coming from someone who doesn’t read this kind of stories and is out of my comfort zone.
I'm so glad the mother was portrait as a wonderful, caring and supportive, I have read so many stories where the mother or Father are j
A well-written but rather slow story detailing Aaron's struggle to recover from the horrendous attack that left him scarred in body and mind and his friend Juliette raped and murdered. He finds a friend in Spencer who is deaf from birth.
He was terrified that one day he'd get trapped in his own head and never find his way back out again. His head was a fucking scary place to be.
Oct 31, 2013 Salsera1974 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Incredibly moving story of a traumatized young man who works through his demons and eventually finds some peace. The author is honest enough to end the story without fixing everything, which I appreciated. It is also nice that she recognizes that the majority of the book should focus on the process of survival, rather than the romance itself, given the brutality of the main character's issues. This is highly recommended.
Mar 27, 2014 *Nan* rated it it was amazing
Recommended to *Nan* by: J♥J
Wow! if you are looking for a nice easy read then this is not the book for you. In my opinion, aaron was one of the most amazing books I read about two boys that had emotional or physical handicaps to overcome and did it through their growing relationship!

Bravo JP Barnaby! 5 stars.

Re-reading this book before I start Spencer
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Anyone else notice? 4 44 Jul 07, 2015 05:34AM  
Anyone else wish that the dead girl was NOT named Juliet? 2 14 Jul 07, 2015 05:24AM  
Is Aaron's cursing realistic? 2 28 Oct 30, 2014 02:45PM  
Dreamspinner Press: New Material 4 117 Jul 31, 2014 12:51PM  
Individual ASL Interpreters? 1 10 Jul 25, 2014 04:22PM  
Deaf People ordering Chinese over the phone 1 17 Jul 25, 2014 03:55PM  
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An award-winning, best-selling novelist of over a dozen books, J. P. Barnaby is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is often described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica which is, of course, far more inter ...more
More about J.P. Barnaby...

Other Books in the Series

Survivor Stories (4 books)
  • Painting Fire on the Air (Survivor Stories #2)
  • Spencer (Survivor Stories #3)
  • Anthony (Survivor Stories, #4)

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“Can I get your cell phone number so we can text like normal antisocial human beings, since we are both too fucked up to have a conversation?” 4 likes
“His younger brothers, Allen and Anthony, hadn’t come downstairs yet. Aaron, Allen, and Anthony—their straight As, as his parents had joked before their first A became an F.” 3 likes
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