Unbroken by Larry Benjamin ~ LAMBDA Review by Ulysses


Title: Unbroken

Author: Larry Benjamin

PublisherBeaten Track Publishing

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the Publisher:

My parents, unable to change me, had instead, silenced me. When they’d stilled my hands, they’d taken my words, made me lower my voice to a whisper. Later, I remained silent in defense, refusing to acknowledge the hateful words: Brainiac. Sissy. Antiman. Faggot.

Lincoln de Chabert’s life is pretty unremarkable until he comes home from kindergarten and announces he will marry his best friend, Orlando, when he grows up.

His parents spring into immediate action, determined to fix him, igniting an epic battle of wills as Lincoln is determined to remain himself, and marry whom he chooses, at all costs.

My View

If one thinks about it, Larry Benjamin’s fictional memoir, Unbroken, has all the ingredients of m/m romance; but it is unlike any other work in this genre I’ve ever read. If one accepts the notion that there is a barrier between m/m fiction and gay literature, Unbroken surely breaks through that barrier.

As I was reading, I found that I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction, and not an actual memoir.  Benjamin’s spare, journalistic style is not evocative or emotional: but it is raw and real.  This book felt like autobiography.

What struck me even more is how deeply I identified with this story, even though its main characters are as different from me as possible. Only four years older than Lincoln de Chabert and Jose Calderon, I was raised in “Leave it to Beaver” land, a pampered child of the all-white upstate suburbs. Lincoln and Jose are mixed race boys of Caribbean descent growing up in the Bronx (and, I’m pretty sure, not in the fancy part of it). They meet in middle school, and Jose’s smile, when Lincoln first sees him, is the catalyst for the saga that unfolds from that point forward.

So why did every single page of this book resonate so profoundly for me? Partly, I think, it’s that Benjamin’s careful chronology—each chapter begins with a terse survey of major current events for the year in which it happens—allowed me to think back on my own life in those years, and to stir up personal memories that echoed those of Lincoln’s narrative. Moreover, I think Benjamin has chosen the details of Lincoln’s memoir so carefully that they are simultaneously unique to his story, and universal to the experience of gay men of my generation all across the country.

Lincoln’s story is one of a sissy boy who has to survive the calculated and willful suppression of his true self at the hands of his own family.  Jose’s is the other kind of gay story: the handsome boy who can pass as straight to everyone around him, but who struggles to confront his own truth in the face of a society designed to deny it. The love story between these two boys as they grow into men is the driving force behind Benjamin’s narrative history. Lincoln’s unblinking telling of his story is the emotional core of the book. Lincoln never asks for pity, only understanding. He never demands praise for his triumphs; only that we acknowledge the power of what he has done. He never claims to be heroic or in any way better than anyone else; and yet he earns our admiration and our affection as effortlessly as Benjamin pens his words.

Although we follow Lincoln and Jose from adolescence into adulthood, this is not a Young Adult book. It is an adult’s story, looking back in wonder and love, over a lifetime of joy and sadness, of adversity and triumph.

Buy Links:

Beaten Track Publishing

I would like to thank Beaten Track Publishing 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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One thought on “Unbroken by Larry Benjamin ~ LAMBDA Review by Ulysses

  1. I like books like this that make you believe its an actual event that happened instead of fiction. I take it as a sign of a really good book if a reader an get lost between the pages of a book.

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