Tommy by Darrell McBreairty ~ Review by Christine

A very different story of self-discovery and accepting personal truths

Tommy coverTitle: Tommy

Author: Darrell McBreairty

Publisher: MUSA

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

Young teacher, Sean Jones, returns to Maine after embracing a gay lifestyle in New York City. Drawn to one of his students, he finds himself falling deeply and irrevocably in love with the quiet and caring Tommy.
Sexually confused and emotionally conflicted Tommy cuts an emotional swath through Sean’s life and the lives of everyone who loves him. His inability to acknowledge his true feelings, creates a triangle of instability between love, happiness, and the comfort of being who you are meant to be.

My View

This book tells the story of two people:  Tommy, a straight 20-year-old high school student living in Maine, and his mother, Nancy.  Tommy’s story is mainly told through the first person voice of Sean Jones, his gay English teacher, who takes pity on Tommy in his struggle to graduate and offers to help him earn the credits he needs to finally complete high school.   A tentative romantic relationship develops between the two, resulting in Tommy’s confusion about his sexuality and everything he thinks he knows about being a man.  Nancy’s experiences are told in alternating flash back chapters written in third person, taking the reader through time from her life as a freshman in high school up to the story’s present as it mingles with the events in Tommy’s life.   Her story tells the tale of a young woman whose self-doubt and solitude lead her to make choices with life-changing consequences.


I really liked the contrast between the two time lines in this book, as well as the alternating points of view.   Tommy and Sean’s story, told exclusively through Sean’s eyes, focuses mainly on Tommy’s sexual confusion as Sean gently pursues him and tries to make him understand that being a man also means discovering and accepting your true self.  In contrast, Nancy’s story tackles themes of family loyalty, grief, betrayal, and infidelity while coping with the cost of making choices in the face of overwhelming loneliness.  Nancy’s chapters are more richly drawn than that of the two men, weaving her love of nature, her home state, and her family into her tale.  The author’s use of imagery and symbolism brings the character to life, along with her hopes, joys, and heartaches.  Additionally, his lyrical descriptions of the raw beauty of Maine are crisp and vivid, something I always enjoy in a book.


Although I liked the overall feel of the book, I did have some issues with it.  Some editing items, such as repeated words or phrases and the use of the wrong word in many instances, frustrated me.  I was also a bit disturbed by the lack of concern Tommy and Sean had regarding the taboo nature of their relationship as teacher and student.  Although Tommy is of age, the fact remains that there is a boundary that should not be crossed, and it was only addressed once in the story.  I would expect it to be more of a point of conflict than it was.  Finally, I was quite surprised by the ending.   It was too abrupt for my liking, lacked resolution, and included a character death that didn’t appear to have purpose to the story or a cause.   I understand that these types of events do occur in books; however, it is my belief that they need to be inherent to the author’s message so that the reader isn’t left with a feeling of bewilderment.


These concerns aside, Tommy was a pleasant read.   I enjoyed the characters and the author’s ability to weave a compelling, vivid tale of self-discovery and family devotion.  I would recommend it with the caveat that potential readers not expect a HEA.

Buy Links:


I would like to thank MUSA for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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