Zach is seventeen, a high school drop out with his GED, living on the edge of financial ruin and as a single Dad. His life revolves around his four-month-old daughter Mae, the two college courses he manages to afford, and working endless hours at Walmart. He finds it difficult to accept or even ask for help from two very loving parents and often finds himself running on empty—exhausted and alone. To top it all off, Mae was the result of one frantic attempt to figure out if he was indeed really gay…the answer is yes.
His future is uncertain, his present dismal, and his past a rainbow of what seem to be poor decisions. But his determination to be all that he can be—the best father, a successful student—is staggering, and it is this grit that keeps him moving through, despite the awful odds laid out against him. The last thing Zach was looking for was a boyfriend, the last thing he wants is to have an endless parade of “Uncles” come in and out of Mae’s life. So he deliberately shut himself off from the idea that he could ever have a relationship and is utterly surprised when Wil shows up in his life, looking too good to be true.
He came through Zach’s checkout line at Walmart and before Zach could figure out what had happened, Will had slipped him his cell number and flirted his way into a casual date with Zach. However, Wil’s life is so very different from Zach’s, not to mention that he is also three years older. Wil seemingly has everything. Wealth, good looks, a confident air, and limitless possibilities. What could Zach possibly have to offer someone who already seems to have it all?
Love…Wil’s life is empty, devoid of a sense of belonging, of being loved. Made to know that he was an “accident” his parents did not want or anticipate, Wil was given anything he wanted—except unconditional love from his parents. Rather than acknowledging their son was gay, they were sure it was a “phase” and one day he would grow out of it. Wil was in search of a family—and he got one in spades when he met Zach and Mae.
Making Ends Meet is a beautifully laid out love story that grew on me page after page. Authors Armstrong and Piet laid out this sweet love story for us, carefully guiding us through what could have been one implausible event after another. The detail and time they took to unfold the plot—even down to having the boys wait until Zach turned eighteen to make love—it was really stunning. I ate up this story, watching the love grow, the baby get cuter and cuter, and these two men navigate so many hardships just to be together—to be a family.
I wanted to disbelieve that a seventeen-year-old boy could be a loving father, but the evidence was so perfectly written on the page that my mind was swayed immediately. These authors gave me real, solid characters, ones that I could imagine meeting, watching and, yes, cheering on in real life. And that is the beauty of a well written novel, that the characters transcend the page and become real for the reader.
I tried to find flaws here, tried to turn a calculating eye toward this novel and find any piece of it that simply was unbelievable, contrived, fake. I am so happy to tell you that I failed. This was a genuinely delightful story from beginning to end. I felt Zach’s misgivings, his strong belief that Wil was just too good to be true. I worried with him over Mae’s illnesses and his money troubles. I was swept up in his love for Wil. I was involved in this novel from the first word to the last.
I highly recommend Making Ends Meet by S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet to you dear reader. It is a tender love story you will not want to miss.