Rating: 5 stars
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What would it be like to grow up in a small town where neighbors turned a blind eye to the abuse that went on behind closed doors and you, yourself, had fallen in love with someone whom you might never openly be able to love? To make matters worse, what if the one you love was male, just like you, and in one night of reckless abandon you showed him just how much you wanted him? Then he ran, fled, not only your house, but the town itself, and no one knew where he was other than the name of the city to which he had flown. How could you let him go? What if he was just escaping the years of abuse in his own home, and was afraid to let his family know he too liked boys? What if he loved you too? All these questions and so many more plagued poor Austin Shelbourne the day he took off to Kansas City to find Todd, the boy he was so sure he was in love with and who quite possibly loved him in return.
After a car accident left Austin parentless, he came to live with his grandparents. Caring and accepting, his family showered him with love even after he told them he liked boys, specifically Todd. With their blessing, Austin moves in with his Uncle Boden and quickly learns his uncle is also gay, giving Austin the strength to openly admit he is as well. After meeting Guy, another tenant, playwright, and director, Austin settles in to spending time being the handyman for the building that his Uncle manages. The three men spend lots of time together, Guy introducing Austin not only to the theatre where he works, but encouraging him to audition for the next play, Tearoom Tango.
When Austin agrees, he finds himself truly in the big leagues for the first time. Trying desperately to adjust to the idea that he can finally openly admit his sexuality, the role Guy has him audition for is just too much, too real and much too promiscuous a part for Austin. The play itself, which graphically details men who harbor sexual addictions and follow through with anonymous sex in public restrooms also hits way too close for Guy, and in a stunning moment in the novel, we read with shock what Guy must admit to Austin about his dark past.
Fearing Austin’s rejection, Guy turns away from him, leaving a confused and questioning young man who is no longer sure that he wants or needs to find Todd. In fact, as time moves on, Austin finds himself drawn more and more to the enigmatic Guy, whose gentle spirit leaves Austin both breathless and wanting. But as Uncle Boden reminds Austin, “No one wants to be second choice“ and Austin finds himself having to make a choice. He can either hold onto the idea that he will find Todd and that they could love each other or take that which was right in front of him, Guy, a broken man who has a past he is still tortured by but who loves Austin with everything he has inside him. Now the choice is up to him…
I have to tell you there were so many layers to this amazing novel. Each character carries with him a background that could have filled an entire novel all on its own. From the flamboyant and delightful Uncle Boden who fell in love with a boy in a time when the word gay didn’t even exist, to the incredibly wounded yet beautiful Guy who hid a past addiction that still threatened to tear his world apart. I found myself laughing, crying, and just totally entrenched in the unfolding story author B.G. Thomas so carefully and sweetly crafted.
I wish I could tell you each little vignette, each precious moment of revelation that Austin was party to, that gave him such a feeling of belonging and of freedom, but I think the very talented Thomas allows his character to say it best:
And suddenly everything seemed better. For the first time in his life, he felt as if there might be a place for him. And maybe, just maybe, everything would turn out right.
For the first time in his life, Austin belonged, was part of something larger than himself and yet so very personal and intimate. He discovered that other men felt just like him, fumbled their way through life and learning about their sexuality just like him, and were there to welcome him into the fold, teach him, guide him, and love him. In the novel, Anything Could Happen, we are privy to one young man’s awakening sexual awareness, another man’s redemption, and yet another man’s love that lasted a lifetime. Each story line is interwoven together in a beautiful tapestry that unfolds before Austin, allowing him to see how very right it was to be gay, how real love lasts, and how first love is sweet and forgiving.
B.G. Thomas gives us a novel of hope, of forgiveness and of stunning beauty. The naïveté of Austin juxtaposed against Guy and Boden’s worldliness offers us a glimpse into the mind and heart of a young man on the cusp of starting to live freely for the first time. We experience the wonderment of each new event as it impacts Austin and see him grapple and grow with disappointment and, at times, real heartache. We watch as he lets go of a dream that had sustained him for so long only to embrace a love that we hope will last him a lifetime. His first crush, his first kiss, his first time of making love…all these are so carefully presented in the richest of detail. I highly recommend Anything Could Happen by B.G. Thomas to you. Allow yourself to get caught up in the wonder of the story you will not regret it.