Author Matthew J. Metzger always combines rich, multi-faceted characters with a fast moving story and unusually gripping drama that often speaks of personal turmoil and acceptance. Enough, which is a re-release under a new publisher, stays true to the path this author has taken in attempting to create more understanding of why many so many gay, bi, and trans folks struggle with feeling inadequate in a society that is forever trying to marginalize them. It is of particular note that Metzger often uses non-white heroes in his stories as well, giving his novels not only diversity, but a broader appeal and fresh look at other cultures. I find each foray into one of his novels not only eye opening, but sobering and entertaining. He tends to infuse some humor in his stories that keeps even the bleakest of subject matters from being too heavy to handle.
In Enough, the author focuses on a lesser educated, common man figure named Jesse. Jesse is a firefighter and he is in love with a wonderfully complex and intelligent school teacher named Ezra. Whereas Jesse’s parents were pretty rough and uncaring while alive, Ezra’s mother is very much alive, ultra-religious, and desperate to be involved in his life—which he refuses to allow to happen. Jesse has no siblings, but Ezra has a sister and let me tell you, she redefines the word witch in a horribly evil way.
So two men from very different upbringings and educational journeys meet, fall for each other, and things are pretty simple until Ezra insists Jesse meet his family. The get together and the aftermath of it are the main focus of the novel and it is apparent that, despite being constantly reassured, Jesse is struggling with huge feelings of inadequacy and fear that Ezra will one day wake up and tell him it’s all over between them.
This is really Jesse’s journey. He struggles mightily with the idea that he will never measure up to being the man Ezra deserves in his life. It doesn’t help that a highly successful and handsome ex of Ezra’s shows up and attempts to push his way into their relationship by accusing Jesse of some horrible things that strike just too close to a fear that Jesse carries with him constantly. Just when I felt Jesse was worrying a bit too much, Ezra would dismiss Jessie’s reaction to his ex re-appearing or toss off a thoughtless comment that clearly showed how little he knew or understood Jesse’s worries about being good enough for Ezra. My heart really broke for Jesse and the burden he carried that colored every moment he was with Ezra. It took a huge conflict, followed by a near tragic event to make both men realize just how bad they were at communicating and how precious they were to each other.
Enough strikes at the very core of each of us and that moment in our lives where doubt and low self worth rear their heads, making us feel temporarily lost and worthless. It’s this universal theme that makes this novel so strong and compelling. The journey Jesse goes on to finally accepting that he is both worthy and loveable is one that I very much enjoyed.