Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia

Through the characters in Poughkeepsie (2011), Debra Anastasia reminds the reader how the smallest act of kindness can make a difference to someone else, and that the bonds of our close relationships are what truly matter.

There's a lot packed into this one novel with homelessness, mental health issues, violence and abuse, and foster care all covered, yet there's also a sense of hope and connection throughout.

Livia, a psychology student who smiles at everyone in the train station during her daily commute from work to school, and Blake, the homeless man who lives for those smiles from Livia, serve as the main focus in the story. There's an entire cast of interesting supporting characters, though, including Blake's (foster) brothers and Livia's sister and their father, and the way they all interact makes the story wonderful.

From the morning scene where Blake and Livia first officially meet in the train station after she defends him from some boys. She suggests he leave before the boys return.

"I can't leave." Green Eyes took a huge breath. "This is the only place where I get to see you."

He looked like a man who'd just bet his entire fortune and laid his cards on the table.

Livia considered him again. I should be thinking "stalker" or "freak" or "Run!" But he looks so hopeful.

Livia took a deep breath and held out her hand. "I'm Livia McHugh. It's nice to meet you."

His green eyes sparkled. "Blake Hartt. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
Adding suspense to the building of their new relationship, Livia and Blake face serious issues with her ex-boyfriend and his drug-dealer brother's enemies.

My overall personal rating of Poughkeepsie is an A.

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