Full disclosure - I only read this book because it was offered as a free review read. I am so glad I did and will look out for more of this author's work.
It's a sweet, yet sad story that I really enjoyed. The writing style worked for me and I bonded with the characters.
When I say sweet, I don't mean gushy, sugary or lovey-dovey. It's set in a 1930's prison and has all the things you expect from such - violence, hatred, rape... But the underlying story is one of grudging respect that becomes much more over time.
The characters are rock solid and believable, the setting well painted. The harsh realities aren't papered over or blown out of proportion to make for more drama. It's well-paced too.
I guess I could be pedantic and say I'd have liked the story to be longer but in reality it was about right. I got to about 3/4 of the way through and thought - how much more of the boys story can there be? (in a positive wondering what's going-to-happen=to-these=guys way rather than oh-my-god-please-let-it-be-over-soon way).
All in all a good read, that had I bought it I would still have been very happy with.