Henry is a black athlete, Brody is a rich-kid adrenaline junkie, and Danny is out-gay and Goth. All are best friends and seniors at their small-town high school. Danny is picked on by Henry’s teammates, and Henry and Brody stand up for him, but it’s not enough. Danny’s mother is a negligent alcoholic, and Danny craves to be loved—even if that love is abusive. He dates older men who tend to rough him up, but he doesn’t feel as if he deserves any better.
Henry’s deeply religious parents want him to get scholarships to attend either a D1 college, or a divinity school, but certainly most important for Henry is to get away from them. He, Brody, and Danny have all applied to the same college early admission—in secret. They hope to go away together so they can continue to support one another, because their friendship is so strong.
Brody is really counting on them staying together because he feels like Danny and Henry are the only people he’s close to. He was a late-in-life child for his parents, the seventh son, and they are more interested in enjoying retirement than being involved in Brody’s life on the day-to-day. His next brother is eleven years older, and he rarely sees any of his family.
As Danny gets himself mixed up in yet another bad relationship, Henry decides he needs to be honest. He’s gay and attracted to Danny. But, that’s not all. He needs both Danny and Brody in his life. Could they begin a relationship together? It’s too unrealistic for Danny, and too much for Brody—at first. Initial forays into physicality are tentative and awkward. It’s confusing for all of them, and yet, it’s comforting too. They have always been a safe harbor for the loneliness and frustration in their lives, but it’s not easy. Brody—who is likely pansexual—makes the choice to “come out” to protect Danny from his bullies. This isn’t a complete fix, though, as Henry feels shut out and unable to join his boys in public spaces the way he wants to. Not without coming out and risking trouble in his family.
I enjoyed this contemporary, menage YA romance because it felt realistic.I liked the three POVs here, because they all hold something different. Danny’s thoughts mainly come through as poetry, while Brody uses journals a lot. Henry is mostly a confessional type of character and he’s got the most to lose throughout. His parents aren’t willing to accept his friends, at all, and less so when Henry makes attempts at identifying as gay publicly. It’s a hard battle for him, and the crisis comes when he’s finally ready to walk his own path. I liked how all three boys grew into their manhood, and how their relationships with their parents changed with them.
The story has a little bit of steam, but mostly it’s chock full of conflicting emotions, realistic challenges, and the desire to be independent. By the end, Danny’s emo attitude is improved, Brody’s daredevil antics wane, and Henry’s search for identity is resolved. They have the kind of love they’d sought, even if it meant building a family of just themselves—and that was kinda sweet. I’ve long been a fan of this author, and this book met all my expectations from the blurb.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.