Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
I don’t often find myself using the word lyrical in conjunction with he M/M genre. Not until today. Not until I read Memorizing You by Dan Skinner. I could in all honesty quote so many passages from this novel. Skinner has an incredible gift for word painting, a beautiful artistry in the way he chooses to put his thoughts down on the page. There were moments, as I read this book, that his imagery and the sentiments his beautifully drawn characters uttered nearly took my breath away. And so I was forced to either quote half his manuscript or choose the one that I felt embodied what the book meant to me.
“You can’t dream in the light, if you can’t live in it.”
Two boys meet at the very beginning of their high school years, neither knowing the other was gay. Ryan, star football player, son of an abusive alcoholic father who sees his son as the ticket to the fame and glory days he, himself, could not achieve on the field, longs to be a gardener. More than that, his dream is to study plants, flowers, and horticulture and to work the earth. Along the way he meets the boy across the street who just happens to have his own lawn mowing business. David just wanted to make some money and mowing is a sure way to make that happen.
The two boys are thrown together when David is asked to tutor Ryan in some subjects he is struggling with. In exchange, Ryan offers to be David’s workout partner and the two become fast friends. Their friendship slowly blossoms into something more, but while David’s parents are accepting and loving, Ryan’s father is and angry drunk and his mother so often remote and seemingly uncaring. As the boys grow closer, Ryan’s father finds more and more ways to keep them apart, until one horrifying night when the world for these two young men comes crashing down and life changes irrevocably.
My synopsis does not do this gorgeous story justice. I mentioned earlier the word lyrical. When it pertains to a writer it means to express emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way. I cannot create a better way to describe the writing in this novel. Skinner develops his characters by pulling out every emotion he can capture and breathing them into the boys he creates. Each moment Ryan and David are together, each second they are thinking of the other, each glance and touch is rife with truth and heartbreaking sincerity. You quickly realize that while they are young, the breadth of their feelings for each other is so far beyond their chronological age. We witness a love that somehow will last a lifetime. It is profoundly moving and so very fragile.
Every element in this book from the plot to the side characters all works in tandem to produce an impeccably tight and well-written story that resonates well beyond the page. This is a tale you will carry with you for a long time. It will lodge itself in your heart and change the way you think about young love. For once you will understand more completely the burden that young men carry who are daring enough to be who they are and love whom they please. Dan Skinner creates the most tender and beautiful of landscapes and peoples them with characters that are strong and smart and who you want to shelter and keep safe from all harm.
The sign of a truly great novel is the way in which it gets under your skin and becomes a part of you. You grieve and worry over its characters and hang on every word that is on the written page. Memorizing You by Dan Skinner is just such a novel. Lyrical, honest, and beautiful, this novel embodies them all. I highly recommend it to you!