Scott came to New Orleans the summer he fled the bigotry of a rural Louisiana town. Tony was born and raised in the City that Care Forgot and lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Now, Scott lives in a homeless shelter and has a job at Tiffany’s Waffles ’n’ Wings, a 24-hour restaurant on the edge of the French Quarter, while Tony is squatting in an abandoned house.
When Tony, desperate for cash, decides to rob someone, along comes Scott. But in the dark alleyway, the younger man stirs something long dormant in Tony. He rescues Scott from being beaten by another thief, then grabs the money for himself and runs. Ashamed of his actions, however, Tony decides to return the money. He follows Scott to work, and the two fragile souls begin a tenuous relationship.
The men fill in what each is missing and what each desires in the other. Scott leaves the shelter to try living with Tony, finding a place to belong and someone who cares for him, and Tony, who has something to prove to himself, longs to be a better man for Scott.
Together, the two kindred spirits try to create a life together in a city on the edge of a comeback…
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I resisted this story for a long time due to the previous connotations with the name. I’m not a fan of re-used titles (no matter how clever or fitting they remain to the new story) so the re-use of a popular title here worked against the story for me. However, once I started reading, I was immediately swept away to a post-Katrina New Orleans and a fascinating story. I actually was so engaged, I finished the entire book without looking up at the page count even once (incredibly rare for me). The writing, setting, characters, and honesty of the situation create a beautifully written, enthralling story that I easily recommend.
Told in alternating third person point of view, this tale is a love story between Scott and Tony but also with the city of New Orleans. Scott is a high school dropout, orphaned at a young age and having learned the hard way how to live on the streets. He once sold his body but soon gave that up and works as a bus boy/waiter at Tiffany’s Chicken and Waffles diner. Scott is careful, wary, and savvy. He keeps his money in a bank and tries to avoid the dangers of the city. He’s the most developed of the two men and comes across as authentic and honest without pity. He’s homeless and struggling but he has pride, knowledge, and dreams. He’s the type of character that you immediately like, root for, and sympathize with but never pity.
Tony on the other hand is struggling with immense guilt over losing his family in the floods and feels unworthy of Scott’s care. His secrets are kept hidden for most of the story, only divulged at the very end. This keeps Tony more mysterious and less developed but it’s unlikely to affect any readers negatively. He’s compassionate, strong, and possesses a large heart. His protection and care for Scott makes a nice counterpoint and together you can see how they motivate and inspire each other to strive for their goals.
Together, Scott and Tony make a great couple from the opening scene where Tony saves Scott from an attack only to take Scott’s few dollars himself to their later happy ending. The dynamic between the men sizzles and creates a totally engaging story as they develop a friendship and relationship. If anything, their relationship is too quick and easy. Scott is a street smart kid and he instinctively trusts Tony a little too quickly. Given their homeless situation and how every dollar is life or death, their choices are too easy. It’s not likely to bother most readers and these two are so thoroughly charming that you can’t help but ignore these issues. I would have liked this novella expanded slightly so their choices were a little more realistic but I could understand why the story moved things along due to space restraints.
The writing is almost lyrical from the opening chill of the streets to the quiet, dark streets of night. New Orleans is lovingly described with intricate detail that immediately transports the reader to the city. Having been to New Orleans countless times myself I recognized the streets, sounds, flavors, and heartbeat of the city authentically included here. Not only is it honest and real, but natural. The city comes alive alongside the characters and the love story is one that charms as it entices. None of the descriptions feel forced or overly long, instead woven in with the story itself as an essential element. If the setting had been anywhere else, the story would have suffered but together it’s a beautiful story that resonates.
Get it HERE!