“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” ― William Shakespeare
What is a boy to do when he realizes that he is gay while growing up in Jefferson, Wisconsin? Jefferson is a city where it seems the only thing a boy is expected to do is play sports in middle school, high school and college and then marry and have the 2.5 kids in the suburbs. Jordan Carson realizes that none of that is in his future, so lucky for him his best friend since second grade is Owen Nelson. Owen is not only Jordan’s best friend, but he is a star wrestler from middle school on. No one messes with Owen, NO ONE, and so by association, Jordan has a built in bodyguard as well as the best friend anyone could ask for.
The book starts out from Jordan’s point of view and we find out how he met Owen. The two little boys bonded over Matchbox cars on the playground and were inseparable from that moment forward. We then go to the summer before 6th grade. This is the summer where Jordan figures out he is gay. While swimming in the pool with Owen a wrestling match starts between the two and ends with them kissing and clutching to one another. For Jordan this is heaven and everything he didn’t even realize he wanted. For Owen, it seems to be just the opposite. Owen is a wrestler, an athlete, one thing he isn’t, and can never be, is gay. The two boys make their peace and agree that nothing like that can happen again, no matter that Jordan realizes that he is truly, irrevocably and forever in love with Owen.
The story then moves on to their high school years where we get a glimpse into the graphic novel the boys make together. Jordan was the artist and Owen the author. This was one thing they could do together, and the short look we got at it showed their dedication to it. This also gave us a view into Jordan’s heart. Owen always has been, and it seems always will be, Jordan’s hero and protector. It also shows us Owen’s dedication to Jordan and the friendship they share. No one and nothing will come between these two, not even crazy zombie football players from a rival school.
Jordan realized at a young age that he is gay, and later realized that he is in love with Owen. From Owen’s point of view we can see that Owen truly believes he is straight. He gets a girlfriend and stays with her for about two years. This is nothing but torture for Jordan, having to watch Owen give his love to a girl and having to live with the fact that Owen’s love will never be his. The situation finally comes to a head, and Owen has to make a life-altering choice. Does he keep Jordan as a friend only and run the risk of losing him, or does he give in and love the man?
This is a decision that Owen does not take lightly. I loved how his thought process worked and how once he made up his mind, there was no one and nothing that would alter his course. Was it easy? No, but then again nothing worth having is easy. Watching Jordan struggle every day with his internal pain was so touching. I cried a couple times while reading this because the pain was so real. There is an HEA, but it is hard fought and completely earned.
I think this is a wonderful title for anyone who enjoys a great YA story. Hopefully Eli Easton will gift us with more wonderful YA stories.
Reviewed by: Jackie