TW: homophobia including one instance of violence, mention of child physical and emotional abuse
Rust is a free spirit who sees the world around with wonder and interacts with it with a joy and innocence that few others take the time for. He wears hair clips because they're pretty and makes art from flowers and leaves and animal bones. Ancel is a lonely boy with a drunk, abusive father. He's terrified of being himself.
We get a lot more time with Rust's POV than we do with Ancel, and as a result, Ancel stays something of a mystery. I love that Rust is so open with himself and not afraid to just be who he is, that he refuses to give into the darkest around him. He's exactly what Ancel needs, and Ancel's strong presence is what Rust needs.
My only issue is that this is basically instalove, a few days of interaction stretched out over 15 years. Even so, their connection was strong enough during those interactions that it didn't bother me too much, and the ending helped to fill in those missing gaps from Ancel's side of the story. A little more interaction when they were younger though would've helped me understand why Rust was so hung up on Ancel for all those years.