Whitman has moved to a small town in Oregon to take over as head librarian when the current one retires. This is his dream, and he has so many ideas to make the library even more important to the town than it already is. He’s lonely, though. The only bar in town is not his kind of place, and any other place to meet people is a pretty long drive away. One day, Whitman meets the young man who does deliveries from the local diner and is intrigued. Speaking of intrigued, Whitman also comes across a sad teenage girl who mourns her dead mother and acts out. As a summer internship at the library opens up, Whitman decides to offer this girl the position, hoping he can help her heal.
Travis had left Slat Creek for the big city. Growing up gay in such a small town wasn’t easy, and he was determined to leave it all behind. Unfortunately, his mother was killed in a car accident and he must return to care for his younger sister, Caitlyn, who tried to commit suicide soon after. He wants to help Caitlyn, but he’s frustrated and feels alone. Unsure if he should let Caitlyn take the internship at the library, he meets with the Whitman to figure out why he chose her over everyone else.
As summer passes, Whitman and Travis become closer thanks to their love for Caitlyn. As they slowly fall for each other, they encounter a few obstacles before they can get to their happy ending. Will it all work out, or will Travis decide to return to the city, leaving Whitman alone?
I love books. I love libraries and I love librarians. I might be dating myself, but I remember days spent pouring over card catalogues with the help of two of the most wonderful women in the world. They helped shape me, so when I saw a book about a small town librarian, I jumped on the opportunity to read it. I wasn’t disappointed at all. I liked the characters, the town, and the story as a whole.
I felt connected to both Whitman and Travis. It all comes down to a small town. I grew up in one, and I understood Travis’ desire to escape, but I also understood Whitman’s desire to move there from a big city. I sometimes find myself longing for home where life was a little slower and everyone knew everyone else, but I really love being able to go to museums, the beach, and other cultural experiences at the drop of a hat.
Another thing I liked is the fact Whitman and Travis are good men. They both want what’s best for Caitlyn, and that’s a common bond that grows deeper as the book moves along. They had a nice chemistry between them. There was no rush for them to jump into any sort of romantic or sexual relationship, and reading about them finding their way to each other was lovely. There is an age difference. Whitman is 32, Travis is 21. I wouldn’t necessarily consider that to be May/December, and it didn’t cause any major conflict. When they do become intimate, the scenes were sexy and sweet…especially their first time. It all felt very natural and real.
Caitlyn plays such an important role in Depth of Focus. She’s the catalyst for everything. I truly felt for her, and her pain was way beyond the typical teenage angst. Not only did she lose her mother, but now she has to deal with Travis, who is rather stifling in his need to keep her safe. She resented him, and in turn, he resented her a bit. She pushed back at him as much as she could. It pleased me that she got so into her role as the library intern. I felt she was able to relax and become a “kid” again. Her pain was always there, but she was able to begin to let go.
There were certain parts of the story I felt dragged a bit, and there is an introduction of a sort of antagonist, but it seemed to me to be almost an afterthought. It could have been explored a bit more, especially with how the story ended.
The ending was neat and tidy. Everything was as it should be. In fact, I like to call these “comfort endings.” As a reader, every now and then, I need to feel warm and fuzzy when I finish a book, and that’s exactly how I felt. All in all, I can solidly recommend Depth of Focus. It was a great way to spend an evening, and Whitman and Travis are characters who will stick with me for a long time.