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Saturday, November 21, 2015

POUGHKEEPSIE BEGINS by Debra Anastasia Review


It ends with the beginning. This legendary, indie, cult-favorite series ends its tale with the story of the Poughkeepsie brotherhood before the tattoo. Before the train station, before the church, before a criminal empire there was a foster home and three teen boys who chose each other as family, because the ones they were born into didn’t exist

Still in high school, Beckett is already laying the groundwork for a grander life ahead, one where his brothers want for nothing and get some respect for once. But even as he plans, Beckett must decide if he’s ready to make that choice—diving in to a life that trades his chance at a future, his chance at something as simple as first love with a girl named Candy Cox, for their chance to find happiness.

Blake, Beckett, and Cole’s devotion to each other is forged by fists and the driving need to belong somewhere, to do more than just survive this life. Readers of the series know they each get there in the end, but before we count smiles, we must first shed tears. These early days of the Poughkeepsie brotherhood will play on your heartstrings before serrating them with a knife; they’ll lift your soul with music, only to leave you with nothing but a desperate prayer for hope.

And when you reach the end of the beginning, you’ll be ready to start the series all over again.

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Poughkeepsie Begins #1:
Poughkeepsie #2: (.99¢)
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Saving Poughkeepsie #4:
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Beckett smiled as he walked into the locker room. The Westlake kids had picked their day well: there was a substitute PE teacher, currently handling an “injury” to one of the smaller Westlake kids, who was pretending to have a possible concussion. But by covering their tracks, they’d given Beckett his opportunity. 
Blake entered the locker room after class, as they’d discussed. Cole showed up right behind Beckett, a bathroom pass in his hand. The attackers had followed Blake in, just a few feet behind, slapping lockers on their way. The Westlake kids were on the football team, and their testosterone was new and flooded their systems when they were in groups. Like now. 
Blake walked past his locker and came to stand next to Beckett and Cole. The numbers were off, but if Beckett had money, he’d still bet it on his side of things. 
“Oh, you think those two are gonna help?” one of the Westlakers taunted. “We don’t want your kind here. Fucking foster kids. Parents hate you so they dump you in here, and we have to deal with you in your hand-me-down clothes.”
“Shit, my parents probably pay the taxes that buy your goddamn food every night,” offered another.
The insults came fast and free. 
Beckett was about to start, to intimidate them, threaten them, but Cole was quicker, and he kept his courage at the end of his fist. He jumped and hit the nearest kid with a punch that nailed the top of his skull. 
Beckett watched the kid’s eyes roll up in his head. 
“Shit.” Beckett came in hard. This wasn’t his first fight, and it wouldn’t be his last. Blake, who the Westlake guys had wrongly assumed was an easy mark, came back swinging as well. Beckett picked off the guys closet to him, but became distracted when he saw Blake falter. As a result, two of the meatheads got him in a restraint, a third landing a punch in his fucking rib. 
Meanwhile, Cole wasn’t Cole anymore. There were no rules to how he fought, no line he wouldn’t cross. Like a bull with a laser focus, he got to the guys by Blake and took them down. Now standing, Blake came in with Cole, stopping Beckett’s assailant from getting in another shot. All the aggression, all the punches they were never allowed to return to Rick came to the surface now. This was a battlefield, and while the kids from Westlake had wanted to bully someone, Cole, Beckett, and Blake knew how to fight to survive. 
Together they worked, and even with the crappy odds of three against ten, they dominated. 
The substitute teacher ran into the locker room, hollering, “What’s going on? You shouldn’t be in here. You didn’t have to change.”
There were bodies and blood everywhere. No one spoke. The Westlake kids knew better. They all just waited the teacher out. Finally one of the smartasses piped up, “Didn’t want our clothes getting sweaty. We’ll get dressed. We’re cool.”
The other boys in the class peeked in the doorway. Obviously the show Mr. Fake Concussion had put on was over. When the teacher finally gave up and told them she’d meet them outside, the Westlake kids helped each other up. The ringleader walked over to Beckett, hand extended. 
“Hey, we’re cool, dude. Right?”
Beckett took his hand and squeezed it tight, pulling the guy close, whispering just for him in his ear. “You want a serial killer? You fucking found one.”
He maintained eye contact until the guy finally looked away, wrenching his hand free. “You’re crazy. Jesus.”
Cole, Blake, and Beckett let the Westlake guys leave first, staying in the locker room until it emptied out. 
“You think they’ll stay quiet?” Blake wondered.
Beckett nodded. “They will.” He didn’t tell his partners he was planning to visit the Westlake ringleader over the weekend at his home. Or that he’d found a starter pistol in Rick’s basement and painted the orange tip black. Beckett had every intention of threatening the guy until he crapped his pants and made sure his football friends never pulled this shit again. On his brothers. On anyone. He looked at Cole, then Blake. 
Each of them had blood streaming down their forearms. The part of their arms that signaled a need for solace in the forest now dripped with violence. 
Beckett held up his arm in an arm-wrestling stance. “Grab on.”
Blake complied, then looked to Cole. “You too.”
The three-way handshake brought them close together. Beckett was hopped up on adrenaline, but he knew this was real. He knew it deep. 
“Brothers?” he asked.
“Brothers,” Blake responded, smiling.
“Forever,” Cole added solemnly.

Poughkeepsie Begins (Poughkeepsie Brotherhood, #0.5)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story made me aww, swoon, cringe, cry and fall in love. I adore a tale about friendship/brotherhood even more than a romance (this has both). I also can't get enough when the characters are survivors of hell yet still possess good hearts. Poughkeepsie Begins has everything I want and need in a book.

Blake, Beckett and Cole come from terrible backgrounds. Many heartbreaking details are given. In a world trying to swallow them up, they find a safe harbor in each other.

Beckett is also at a crossroads in his life. He can try to hang his everything on the chance of first love, or he can follow a dark path into a world of big payouts and big consequences.

I highly recommend this read. The plot felt authentic, no eye rolling moments. I experienced the strength and pain soul deep. I also gave several smiles to Beckett's charm. It pulled all my heartstrings and left me wanting more. The storyline is beautiful, ugly, sad and uplifting all in one go.

***copy given in exchange for an honest review***


Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents