Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
When Danny Shields comes out to his brother, Vinny, 26 years of being brothers and best friends doesn’t seem to mean anything once Danny admits he is gay. Danny decides to come out to their parents the following night, and it is a disaster, just like Vinny knew it would be. Danny was hoping for the best, and willing to take the risk in order to be true to himself. Sadly, Vinny’s lack of support for Danny is an indication that in addition to being disowned by their parents, Vinny does not have his back, and Danny is truly alone.
Two years later, Danny’s parents are more homophobic than ever, and although Danny and Vinny are on speaking terms, Vinny is still less than supportive. Vinny shows up at Danny’s house one night only to find Danny dead, having committed suicide.
With Danny gone, Vinny truly begins to notice the intolerance that Danny faced in his last two years of life, and is slowly finding out what a life without support and understanding is like. One night, Vinny stops at the gas station for smokes and to fill up his truck and he notices the attendant, Tristan, a swishy make-up wearing faggot. Vinny treats the attendant horribly and, once he has cooled down, realizes he was in the wrong. Vinny’s awareness that he was a jerk does not stop him from doing it again at Tristan’s second job.
Vinny, has an epiphany, and draws a parallel between his behaviour towards Tristan, and how his brother Danny was treated by so many others, including himself. Vinny decides Tristan deserves better treatment and an apology. Vinny hopes that befriending Tristan will soothe some of his guilt he feels over Danny’s death. Although Tristan is wary, the two men slowly become friends. Vinny had planned to take Danny to Alaska for a long weekend and instead invites Tristan. During the trip, Vinny, confused about his feelings for Tristan, kisses him, which leads to so much more.
Once back from their trip, Vinny confides in his friend that he had sex with a man and their conversation is overheard by a co-worker, Vicky, with whom he has had an on and off relationship. Vinny admits his love for Tristan, and now that the cat is out of the bag, Vinny knows he needs to tell his parents and risks the same rejection as Danny. It is anybody’s guess how Vinny’s mom and dad will take it and Vicky’s reaction to the news leaves no doubt that her anger at being played will most likely wreak havoc on Vinny’s life. Will his love for Tristan be worth the coming shitstorm?
The Wind Your Voice, The Rain Your Tears is like a roller coaster ride, a short trip up the first hill, sending us plummeting, and then lulling us into complacency before hitting us with a triple loop at the end.
Let’s start with Vinny, I have no doubt in my mind that Vinny is bisexual which made it easier for him to toe the “straight” line, and honestly I also thought he was an ass from the get-go. Self absorbed and always worrying about what others think, Vinny needs to take responsibility for his actions. Since the story is told from Vinny’s POV, it was refreshing to see honesty in his character, which did not show him as a good or a bad guy, but rather, just a (closeted) small town man. The fact that Vinny goes to work and outs Danny to his co-workers was ignorant to say the least, and that along with his mercurial behaviour certainly didn’t endear me to Vinny. I did wonder, though if this was a litmus test for him.
Vinny’s behavior upon first meeting Tristan at the gas station three days after Danny’s death was not what I would have expected from him. He is rude, ignorant, and belligerent, which quite honestly pissed me off considering he just buried his gay brother. Vinny is obviously affected by Tristan. He thinks it is because Tristan is gay and he is trying to make amends, to appease his guilt about his brother’s death, but we start to see that there is more to Vinny’s interest than just friendship. Turns out that Vinny has had fleeting thoughts about men in the past, which he has kept to himself, and the more time Vinny spends with Tristan, the more he feels for him, regardless of his upbringing and parents’ beliefs.
The cast of secondary characters was minimal and Vinny’s mom and dad were pretty prominent. I will admit some confusion about Vinny’s father who’s passive-aggressive behaviour became more pronounced after a heart attack. Having had a serious medical scare a few years ago, I have found that survivors generally have a more positive outlook on life, which was not the case with Vinny’s dad, and Vinny’s mom showed that she was not as unaffected by Danny’s death as it first appeared. Vinny’s co-workers, Paul and Vicky, were fleeting characters in the story, and even though they took on a much greater role at the end, they still stood out as stereotypical and somewhat exaggerated two-dimensional people.
Vinny believes that being gay is a choice Danny made. In hindsight, Vinny slowly realizes that he could have, should have, would have done more but did not think he had to at the time, that Danny was strong enough on his own. Vinny reflects on his brother’s life and begins to realize that his own life need to be reflected upon. Tristan needs Vinny to have his back, just like Danny did when he came out.
The Wind Your Voice, The Rain Your Tears put me though the wringer, that’s for sure. The fear of coming out and being rejected, the horror of suicide, and the gradual growth and acceptance of one’s self and others, made this a compelling read for me. The middle of the book dragged a bit but like I said at the beginning, this book is like a roller coaster and the final leg of the journey makes it all worth while.