Author: Christopher Koehler
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Remy Babcock and Mikey Castelreigh are stalwart members of the Capital City Rowing Club’s junior crew, pulling their hardest to earn scholarships to rowing powerhouses like California Pacific. Just a couple of all-American boys, they face the usual pressures of life in an academic hothouse and playing a varsity sport. Add to that the stifling confines of the closet, and sometimes life isn’t always easy, even in the golden bubble of their accepting community. Because Remy and Mikey have a secret: they’re both gay. While Mikey has never hidden it, Remy is a parka and a pair of mittens away from Narnia.
Mikey has always been open about wanting more than friendship, but Remy is as uncomfortable in his own skin as he is a demon on the water. After their signals cross, and a man mistakes Remy for a college student, Remy takes the plunge and hooks up with him. After a furious Mikey cuts Remy off, Remy falls to the pressure of teenage life, wanting to be more and needing it now. In his innocence and naiveté, Remy makes mistakes that have life-long consequences. When Remy falls in the midst of the most important regatta of his life, he can only hope Mikey will be there to catch him when he needs it most.
~ For Remy and Michael and everyone else like them, and their loving families and friends. ~
Starting out, the tone and narration are unmistakably those of a teenager. Frenetic, sarcastic and energetic, Remy begins his story and my brain was trying to keep up. <<< Does not mean I’m old! 😉
Not surprisingly, fitting in is a major theme in this book. It gets right to the heart of how difficult it is, how isolating and painful it feels when fitting in seems impossible. It’s a struggle that exhausts and drains. It actually ends up stifling and impeding someone from really sharing and being who they’re meant to be.
Oh wait, two of my favorite phrases: “erg ninja” and “ego candy”. Did I just become cool(er?) for adding these to my own verbal stash?
Sidebar: I just might flit and flip twixt subjects like Remy does in telling his story, like mental ping pong.
And back to the struggle…
I locked my throat so I didn’t scream, but I wanted to and one of these days I would.
A strong physical effort to hide an even stronger emotionally crushing existence.
There are some repetitive words and phrases, sometimes in consecutive paragraphs. I chalk this up to a very real portrayal of the way a teenage brain works and therefore communicates. The brain can get stuck on “repeat” just like a favorite or meaningful movie or song that gets played over and over as a way of dealing with life.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that this is an emotional book. It’s simultaneously very personal and universal. It’s a complicated and multi-layered story about teamwork and neglect thereof, friendship and the loss of, and the learning curve on which we all seem to live, whether teenager or adult. It’s about acceptance and forgiveness and demanding that those who supposedly love us behave like they do.
This is a good mix of language and the handling of subjects and actions that would probably be best read by those around 17 and 18, unless someone younger has a certain level of maturity.
”Remy,” Goff, said, putting his hand on my shoulder, “you’ve never been young, not once in your whole life.”
Being Remy’s twin brother, Goff would know. As do I. As someone who has always been told that she came into the world already acting like she was 30, I understand Remy. 😉 This also speaks to that fact that this isn’t all serious drama. There is definitely humor and typically teenage angst, which translates to even more humor.
The prose was mostly smooth, no major halting or awkward phrasing. The dialogue felt natural when the kids and coaches were conversing. When it came to some of the other adults, it did feel a bit overdone, but we’re also talking about parents here, so it fit.
This is such a personal story. It makes it even more difficult for me to accurately explain my emotions while reading, especially in the final chapters. At some points, it got so intense that I found myself harboring a strong desire to skip or ignore entire sections. I didn’t. No way would I do that in reading a book like this.
It’s important to me that I read this and I think it would feel that way to you, too. Compassion, understanding and the ability treat people in a non-judgmental way are all… well, they speak for themselves. We can’t forget these things.
This book is frankly a great resource, especially if you or someone you know is in Remy’s or Michael’s situation. This can help open doors if you have questions and aren’t sure where to go for some answers. This will lead you in a good direction.
I would never know their names, but I had to live because they had never had the chance.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Written with superb insight and a genuine regard for its audience, Poz reads almost like a contemporary cautionary tale, bringing important life lessons to the page through gay teenagers Remy and Michael. These authentic characters, their realistic actions, and the natural consequences that occur throughout this YA m/m romance ring with the harsh truths that exist in today’s world, along with the bittersweet fact that though people are human and fallible, they deserve our love, forgiveness, and understanding.
Christopher Koehler’s keen sense for reaching his audience is vividly clear here, as Poz is written in an appropriate tone and with careful consideration for the age of the targeted reader. Although there is typical teenage angst and language, the more intimate scenes are only alluded to and pretty much kept off page. There are many elements that provide the younger audience as well as more mature adults with opportunities for connection and validation, particularly the realities of the use and misuse of social media websites, school sports and the resulting team fellowship, and the inevitability of seeking comfort, love, and human contact whether in the throes of raging hormones or reeling from devastating news.
The character relationships within Poz are interesting, complicated, and convincing. There are many issues being addressed in this rather short novel, and not all conflicts are resolved, as in the real world. One thing I do wish had been expanded upon just a bit more is Remy’s relationship with his parents, especially the friction he feels with his father. There is quite a bit of blame placed here, and I would have liked a little more foundation in order to better understand Remy’s feelings of bitterness. Overall, however, the interactions, dialogue, and dynamics within the family and outside of it are believable and serve a strong purpose for the movement of the plot and character growth. Remy’s voice is mature and compelling and resonates with passionate feelings for his family, friends, and his sport.
Kudos to Mr. Koehler for providing a realistic and sympathetic portrayal of a high-achieving teenage boy who struggles with coming out, makes mistakes, and then must deal with the unexpected repercussions. I recommend Poz to m/m readers of all ages, and I look forward to finding out how Remy and Michael fare in further installments of this new series.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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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