Luke Devlin is a history teacher working on his thesis. When school vacation starts, Luke buys himself a new journal and is determined to record his days in the summer. Living in Denver, he can’t wait for the outdoor adventures to begin. But life has other plans when Luke’s brother, Matt, becomes ill with a difficult diagnosis. Luke also meets Jeffrey, a Wyoming cowboy, and quickly falls in love, but Jeffrey has some big secrets he is keeping hidden.
The easy days of summer become unfulfilled wishes as Luke’s love life and family life become completely overwhelmed as he confronts life’s harsh realities under the summer sun.
I really enjoy books that have this framework—almost a story within a story as a character records their journey over a particular time frame. That is the case here somewhat and Luke has a story to tell, but the narrative offered too much and then not enough almost simultaneously.
The book opens at the end, in the month of December, and we know upfront one major event that happens. The story then moves back to the month of June and is divided into parts over the next four months. Luke is close to his brother, but when he spends time with Matt at the lake, he knows something is off and encourages him to see a doctor. This sets off a good portion of the story as Luke deals with Matt’s diagnosis. Luke also meets an older man and gets caught up in a love affair and falls in love in a few weeks.
The journal entries are woven into the story, but they had the same tone as the rest of the book and didn’t offer much different information then what we were given in the main part of the book, so the part that was supposed to hook me fell flat. Luke also starts a relationship with Jeffrey, but they don’t spend all that much time together as they live in different states, and some of their interactions are off page and alluded to and we are told more than we are shown. This didn’t offer any of the emotion I was supposed to feel as Luke was falling in love and then watching this new relationship crumble. The relationship arc is also left open and we aren’t told what the status will be for the men at the end of the story.
There are also many, many (so many) social issues packed into this book and some are mentioned only briefly and remain on the surface. There is reference to nature conservation, clean energy and fracking, environmental protection, animal rights as it pertains to cattle ranchers, religion and existentialism, philosophy and literature, homophobia, single parents, death, family, life, love, and loss. It was too much for me in one novel and, since I am not an expert on all the things, I cannot attest to the authenticity or appropriateness of each and every point raised.
I would not go into this book looking for a romance, as Luke’s relationship with Jeffrey is on the periphery of this story, so it would be a better choice for general LGBT fiction. The ending felt incomplete and unsettled and while life sometimes is that way, as this particular novel came to a close, I was looking for that spark that would have made the journey more worthwhile.