Ten years ago, Nathanial’s parents threw him out of the house after finding out about his relationship with an older man, Joshua. The two created a life together, including raising a child. Today, the day after their 10th anniversary, Nathaniel wakes up to find out that Joshua has walked away from their life together. Left in financial ruin and on the verge of having their house foreclosed upon, Nathanial struggles to figure out how to rebuild his and his son’s lives without Joshua. Swallowing his pride, Nathanial heads back home. Back living with his homophobic father, his mother – who is trying to bridge the abyss – and running into his old high school bully, Abel, Nathanial begins to realize that maybe he can start rebuilding his life back where it all fell apart in the first place.
This is one of those books that I hate reviewing because I know that the author put their blood, sweat, and tears into it. Unfortunately, at times the plot came across as being something out of a made-for-cable movie (in a PG version) where readers have to suspend some sense of reality in order for the plot to work. On top of this, add in that there was a constant build-up of drama going on all over the place – like little storms brewing in the afternoon heat – only to dissipate without producing much of anything.
Nathanial is a high school dropout who has managed to make a decent living writing books. Totally in love with Joshua, he allowed Joshua to handle all their finances. So when Joshua walks out of his life, he is stunned to realize that both he and his son were left in financial ruin. His anger at Joshua is very short-lived as Nathanial begins to blame himself for making Joshua feel as if he could never live up to the expectations Nathanial had for him. Forced to face reality when he realizes that he cannot afford an apartment on his income, Nathanial is forced to swallow his pride and reach out to his parents in the hopes of them letting him stay there with his son until he gets on his feet.
Returning home, Nathanial has to deal with his homophobic father and his mother who never stood up for him growing up, a best-friend he let down when he didn’t come home for his wife’s funeral, and one of the bullies he dealt with in high school – who now works alongside his father and who happened to come out of the closet shortly after graduating and who Nathanial finds himself falling in love with. For me, I expected that there was going to be some conflict with the former bully and the bullied reuniting, yet it didn’t really happen. There were a few “strong” words but not a lot of emotion, just an agreement that Abel was a jerk in high school. Now for those of us who were bullied in high school, this was pretty anticlimactic. I wanted to see the hurt and the anger and got nadda… except the two of them sharing a beer together. I don’t know about you all, but I know if I ran into one of my old high school bullies, I’d be going in the opposite direction and the only beer I might share with them would be the one I threw on them before I hightailed it out of there.
While technically Abel is a main character, it feels as if we really don’t know a whole heck of a lot about him as a character/individual like we do with Nathanial. Instead, what we get is to see Abel in brilliant light where only the goodness of him shines through and we don’t really get to see any of his flaws. Don’t get me wrong, Abel is a totally likeable character – too likeable actually because he always seems to know exactly what to do and say. So while there is all this conflict going on, the only one who Nathanial doesn’t seem to incite conflict with is the one whom you would expect there to be at least a few waves.
Then we have the third main character in the book – Bailey, Nathanial’s 4-year-old son who happens to be the product of his ex and a surrogate. Apparently gay couples always manage to have the geniuses for children as Bailey is four going on sixty. At times he seems overly intelligent, and then for brief periods of time he reverts to a normal four-year old. While it was mildly annoying that a child this age has a better grasp of the spoken language and the ability to verbally articulate his thoughts and feelings than most adults, it was irritating to me, as a reader, to listen to Nathanial talk about how important Bailey is to him in one sentence and then have no problems dumping his kid off on his parents (parents who have just met the child) for hours on end to go dally around with Abel.
Then we have the whole issue of Nathaniel being given a job as a school counselor by his best-friend/principal of the local high school. Yes, it makes a great storyline, but in reality, things like this just don’t happen in real life. There is a whole process for getting hired in schools, even for jobs as mundane as a janitorial position – never mind a position where you are going to counsel youths. I could see if this was maybe a summer camp, or an after school program, but a full-time paid position as a counselor with little more than a GED?
So, now we move on to the relationship between Nathanial and his father. Dad throws him out at the age of 16 because he discovers that his son is gay and in a relationship with Joshua. They’ve had no contact for ten years, and he is less than thrilled to have his gay son and his child living in his house, but relents when his spineless wife finally grows a backbone. He spends most of his time grunting at Nathanial, blows up at him, and throws him out once again, and then all of a sudden everything is fine.
Finally, we have the whole Nathanial and Joshua relationship. We spent the entire first part of the book focusing on Joshua’s betrayal. Yet, when he returns we don’t get any answers as to where he went, where the money went, how he plans on dealing with the issue of custody of Bailey, and most importantly, we don’t get any real emotion from Nathanial over Joshua reappearing. One would expect that there might have been anger over what had happened, confusion over what he’s returned for, fear that he may take Bailey…instead, all we get is Joshua realizing that Nathanial has moved on.
Overall, for me, there were a lot of issues with this book that had me rolling my eyes more times than not. For me, I thought there were too many different angles going on in the story that they all felts as if they just missed the mark. For me, it was a miss.