Giveaway!!! Cardeno is offering a copy of Eight Days up for giveaway to one lucky commenter. Be sure to check out the details at the end of the post and leave a comment to enter.
Maccabe Fried and Josh Segal have been friends all their lives. Their parents are close and the families share holidays and vacations together. Although they are totally different — Maccabe is a jock and Josh is a bit of a geek — they have always been close, though nothing but friends. Until one day at age 17, Maccabe suddenly realizes he is totally attracted to Josh. And then freaks the heck out only to avoid him for a year until Josh forces Maccabe to face his feelings. But things still aren’t smooth sailing. Maccabe isn’t interested in coming out and is perfectly content hanging out and having sex with Josh. The only future he can think of is his developing baseball career. And Josh wants more from Maccabe, wants to come out to their families and be in a real relationship. Over the course of about ten years the men struggle with their relationship before they finally find their way to long-term happiness together.
Eight Days is told in eight chapters, each representing a day in their lives, all of them falling over the holiday of Chanukah. And if I am not mistaken, each day also takes place on that corresponding day of the holiday (meaning The Third Day of the story is also happening on the third day of Chanukah that year), which I thought was pretty clever. The holiday serves as a nice backdrop, anchoring the story over a recurring event as it jumps forward in time. It also highlights the closeness of the families and the importance of their relationships with each other. The families are lots of fun and a bit wacky, and Maccabe’s exasperation with both their sisters and the families’ inappropriate dinner conversations was highly entertaining. The story is not particularly spiritual however, and you can easily enjoy it whether or not Chanukah is your personal holiday.
I think how you feel about this story will really hinge on how you feel about Maccabe. Personally I loved him, for all his bumbling obliviousness early on in the story. I liked that Maccabe acts like many young men his age. His mind basically says, “I like sex. I like Josh. Therefore sex with Josh is awesome. Grunt.” He isn’t thinking about a relationship or where things are going long term. He just knows he cares for Josh and wants to be around him a lot (and have sex with him, of course). Josh wants more from Maccabe, but the combination of Josh’s inability to really articulate it, along with Maccabe’s complete lack of awareness, means that message doesn’t really get through. In addition to his essentially age appropriate behavior, the other thing that makes Maccabe work for me is that he is telling the story retrospectively. So even as he is describing the events, he is totally aware that he behaved cluelessly, missed obvious signs, and overall was sort of a clod. So instead of being annoyed, I found myself entertained by him as he recounts his mistakes with a sense of amused exasperation.
I loved the relationship between these two guys. As I said, it felt so age appropriate. Each guy struggles a bit to realize what he wants and how to communicate it (though Maccabe definitely more so). It was sweet to watch them figure out their feelings for one another, especially in their younger years. And I found it so cute how they each loved the little oddities about the other that would have annoyed most people, but they each found endearing. We definitely get a better sense of Maccabe as the story is told from his POV, but I also feel like Josh’s personality really comes through well.
My only quibble is that Maccabe’s role as a professional athlete never felt entirely developed to me. We watch him go from his high school team, through the minors, and eventually the majors over the course of the book. By the later chapters, he is supposed to be a successful pro baseball player. Yet it seemed a bit of an afterthought, and for a pro player in his home town, he seemed to move around with no notice, no press, or no real affect on his life. For me, if he was going to be a pro athlete, I wanted to see how his job affected his life or his relationship in some way.
So I really enjoyed this one. Sweet and fun with endearing characters and some nice humor. I enjoyed the way the holiday was incorporated into the story and the deep sense of family and friendship it brings. And I loved Josh and Maccabe and rooted for them to make it all work. Great story and definitely recommended.
Giveaway: Cardeno is giving away a copy of Eight Days to one lucky reader. Leave a comment below to enter. The contest closes on Thursday, December 13th at 11:59 pm EST.
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