Ben and Tim. They have been the central focus of the Something Like… series, and the Seasons series in particular. It started with them and it is entirely fitting that it should end with them. Because this eleventh book, Something Like Forever, closes out this exceptional series. Ben and Tim dated in high school and it is now 20 years later. A whole lot has happened to these guys in between those years, but the love they have for each other still remains.
Life is changing again for the men. Jason is settling into a new life and Ben and Tim are having growing pains. As Ben contemplates his career, Tim is taken overseas to create a new endeavor and there are small struggles that the men face that inevitably make up a life. Ben and Tim are the closest of friends and lifetime partners with a love story that spans decades and one that ultimately will last forever.
Blink. Blink. Blink. The beat of the cursor as it blinks back at me because it’s difficult to find a starting point with a series as special as this one. Because this book is not just a single book with a singular story. Something Like Forever encapsulates all of the books that have come before it. The stories that started with a high school boy with a crush on another boy with blue sneakers. Tim and Ben have come so far from those boys, yet, so much remains the same.
The book opens a little bit in the past, but it was exactly the place I wanted to be. The story of Jason and William was one story that never felt finished to me and here we get to see where Jason is in his thoughts and why he made certain decisions. So, we get invited to some of the most important moments in Jason’s life. I say invited, because that is how I feel about this series. The entire series winds and weaves and overlaps its way around and Jay Bell has been kind enough to invite us along on the journey of so many characters that are written to be so very real.
As with all the books in this series, the real journey is discovering and uncovering it as you go. This book offers no surprises, but takes us through pivotal moments, as well as highlights of a life well lived. We additionally get to catch up with Marcello, Nathaniel and Kelly, Chinchilla, and a few other supporting characters as well. The guys are having some growing pains throughout this final installment and perspectives are shifted as even Jace makes an appearance and Ben remains more conflicted than we had seen him in the past. The point to remember is that the story of Ben and Tim is a second chance love story and there are stories and characters that will remain connected to them for all time.
One of the things I have liked most about this series was the flow of the intertwined stories and the well-constructed narrative that seamlessly moved from one scene to the next. The story here was a little more disjointed for me than in the past and it remained that way for most of the book, which I wasn’t expecting. I have listened to most of this series on audio and it was a small shift here to reading the words instead and, to my eye, there was an excessive use of exclamation points all over that often drew my focus slightly off of the story.
The epilogue goes a few steps further and reminds us that the series is about life and it’s about a love story, or two, and Bell writes a final goodbye to two men, but also to an entire family of characters. There are few series like this one that span a lifetime and where all of the pieces fit and connect in sometimes unexpected ways and I thank Jay Bell for sharing the lives of these immensely special characters. It’s been a privilege.