Title: Something Like Summer
Author: Jay Bell
Hello there all you readers (and lovers of M/M romances!). You might have seen me here randomly commenting. I am afraid I am not very active over at this blog – and all is Jay’s fault. She reviews so many awesome books that I rarely get a chance to comment before I have to jump over and buy the book and read it, like, RIGHT NOW! I am over at my blog Occasional Musings n Ramblings where you will see me in all my rambling glory.
I got hooked on M/M romances somewhere nearly a year ago. In this time, I have read 200 plus books and I don’t see it losing its appeal anytime soon. For this reading marathon strength and encouragement, I have to thank the initial couple of books that I read – Zero at the Bone (Jane Seville), Promises (Marie Sexton), and Something Like Summer (Jay Bell). If I had picked up some badly written books and if it weren’t for these awesome and wonderful authors, I don’t think I could have continued with this genre.
When I thought about doing this post, I realized that it was pretty difficult to select my favorite book or the book that I love. But after thinking it over, I settled on Something Like Summer by Jay Bell. I have talked about my love of this book here, here, and here.
I had originally picked up this book thinking it might be a story about high-school kids and their coming out problems with a love story woven into it. What I didn’t expect was that this book would steal my heart and be hovering around the edges of my conscious thoughts till God knows when. To me it presented two differing viewpoints of a gay boy’s life – Ben’s family, who implicitly accepted who he was and who he loved, and Tim’s family who were so deeply rooted in religion that they forgot about love.
The M/M romances always strike a chord with me. Not only because of their touching story lines and the love between two guys, but also because even as a straight (Indian) woman, I can relate to some of what the guys go through. I have no doubt that if I had wanted to marry a guy of my choice (let alone another caste or another religion), I would have been disowned and thrown out of the house. So, trust me when I say, I know what they are going through. How would you be able to turn your back on to the one you love just because society or your parents refuse to see the truth? How would you remain true to yourself then, where will you draw the strength from? When all the world (i.e. the readers of this book) hated Tim, I understood what prompted him to push himself back in the closet. That boy just broke my heart.
“Teach me how to fly my beautiful butterfly.”
This one line, grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. Tim had recited this dialogue in Spanish but didn’t dare to say it in English, not knowing how Ben would take it. I sniffled when I read it, because that is when I knew that it would only be Ben who would give the Tim courage to be himself and that they belong together. Then came Jace, who not only stole Ben’s heart but made me realize, I have a Jace in my life too! Some of you might have felt that Jace is too good to be true and larger than life. But believe me when I say, there are guys out there like him. I could see my own husband’s nature reflected in his character – forgiving, compassionate, and understanding of the person who loves you and who you love. I loved that the story showed that everything has its right time and place – even love. Tim and Ben, both needed to mature. Both needed to have other people in their life who showed them what selfless love is before they ended up together. Because, like most of us know, there are wrong people to love OR there is a wrong time for love.
The book was wonderful in so many ways. It gave a realistic picture of Ben’s friend Alison – she loved a boy who didn’t turn out the kind of guy she would end up with in a long term relationship. It didn’t paint a rosy picture of leaving the one who truly loved you for the guy who you can’t get off your mind. Alison was sort of a friend who took the place of a reader – you know how we shout at the characters when we read books? “Oh no! Don’t leave that guy! He LOVES you even if he didn’t say it yet!” “Don’t go back to your ex! He just slept with his secretary and is a sleaze bag!” You know THAT kind of reader? Yeah, she took that reader’s place. It was refreshing to see the character talk sense into our protagonist, especially with the exact same dialogue that is running in your head.
What sealed the deal for me in this book was the mention of one of my favorite songs “Killing Me Softly” (The Fugees). I was dumbstruck thinking how many points would this book end up scoring! My husband should definitely blame Ben for encouraging me to belt out the song at the top if my voice, especially seeing how he is not such a big fan of it! *wince*
Another point that I wanted to mention is the title – I love it. I feel it is deeply rooted into the story. If, today, the author came up to me and asked, “Raji, what does the title mean to you?” I would definitely say that, for me, Tim and Ben’s love was and is like summer. It is never ending, intense, hot, and repeats every cycle. You can’t avoid summer, you think you have escaped it but no matter where you are, no matter which country you are in, summer eventually catches hold of you. It didn’t matter that it was Tim’s cowardice, it didn’t matter that it was Chicago, it didn’t matter that it was Jace, it didn’t matter that it was Tim’s Eric… what mattered was they always ended up with each other. It might be voluntarily or forced but it was the way of their love.
I always love the books where the story spans an entire decade or a considerable period of time for the characters, and this was one of them. I could see Ben and Tim fumble along and discover and explore each other and themselves. Those teenage years were portrayed so beautifully that I found myself living in Texas, living in Chicago, performing on the stage, experiencing the heart-break when Ben finds out the cowardice of Tim, the excitement of having your lover right next to you in the crowded and dark area of the amusement park. *sigh*
The book made me grow up along side with Tim and Ben. I loved with them, I hated with them, I cried with them, and I sighed with them. If there is any better way of “living” the book and the characters, I don’t know what it is.
Brahmin in Boston (Raji) is a twenty-something who can always be found with a book and a dreamy look in her eyes. If she is not with a book then she has earphones on and is grooving to some music – even if it is on a public transport.