While Kerry is only twenty years old, he has been through quite a lot in his life. The youngest of four boys, he grew up with a military stepfather and never fit into the box that everyone wanted him in. The more Kerry’s true self came out, the more violent his stepfather became. So Kerry did the best he could to blend in and that included having a girlfriend and being some version of the man that was expected of him. Kerry now lives in a dangerous part of town and works as a dancer just to pay the bills. But Kerry is still not who he wants to be and there is danger at every turn if he tries to express himself.
Ewyn works security at the club where Kerry dances and the men hit it off right away. As far as everyone knows, Ewyn is straight, but Ewyn has desires as well. Ewyn likes control and Kerry desperately wants to let go but he’s afraid that once Ewyn, once everyone, sees all that Kerry wants to be, that he will be alone once more.
What sold me on this book was simply the fact that Lynn Kelling wrote it. She is an amazing writer and brings characters to life in an exceptional way. The Author Notes that she includes in her books always pack a punch as well and here Kelling admits, “I never intended to please everyone with this story; I needed only to please Kerry.” And that’s why this book is an important one.
Becoming Kerry is a character-driven novel that incorporates Kerry’s past alongside his present. His life has been a difficult one as he never fit it with his family and was beaten for it. But that’s not all of it. Kelling has Kerry’s past unraveling slowly, but at a controlled pace throughout the story. So much has happened to him and his despair clearly comes through and when we meet him he feels like he is truly on his own. That is until he meets Ewyn.
Ewyn is intense in a quiet way and he likes being in control and he likes order. But he sees Kerry. He sees all of Kerry and as they become closer and Kerry wants to make changes to himself, Ewyn supports him and loves him and becomes the one person that Kerry can always count on. He accepts everything about Kerry and then when Kerry wants to take steps to make what he feels on the inside match the outside, Ewyn not only accepts Kerry, but encourages him. Kerry is done apologizing for who he is and Ewyn is truly instrumental in bolstering Kerry’s courage and confdence.
There were parts of the book that were slow for me, even with so many things happening around Kerry. Much of the trauma in Kerry’s life is recounted and we are not in the moment so the intensity compared to some of Kelling’s other books is dialed down slightly, but she still pulls all of the emotion through to render all of the heartbreak that Kerry has suffered. And the hits keep coming all of the way through the book and Kerry’s past will always be a part of him, but the book is ultimately about hope and becoming your true self. Ewyn is a huge part of this journey as well for without Ewyn, it appeared doubtful Kerry would be given the freedom to express himself.
This book stayed with me after I finished it as my mind would go back and trace how Kelling pulled all of the complicated parts together to create the story of Kerry. This is a unique and well written story of living outside the carefully constructed lines that people want to put you in. It’s recommend for fans of Kelling and for anyone seeking a character finally being able to live their truth.