Author: P.D. Singer
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
Senior year of college is for studying, partying, and having fun before getting serious about life. Instead, Chad’s days are filled with headaches and exhaustion, and his fencing skills are getting worse with practice, not better. Then there’s his nonexistent love life, full of girls he’s shunted to the friend zone. Is he asexual? Gay?
Grad student Warren Douglas could be out clubbing, but his roommate is better company, even without kisses. He’s torn up watching Chad suffer, gobbling ibuprofen and coming home early on Friday nights. If Chad weren’t straight, Warren would keep him up past midnight. They’re great as friends. Benefits might answer Chad’s questions.
A brief encounter with lab rats reveals Chad’s illness—he needs surgery, STAT, and can’t rely on his dysfunctional parents for medical decisions. Warren’s both trustworthy and likely to get overruled—unless they’re married. “You can throw me back later,” Warren says, and he may throw himself back after his husband turns out moody and hard to get along with, no matter how much fun his new sex drive is. Surgery turns Chad into a new man, all right…
…but Warren fell in love with the old one.
P.D. Singer was recently a guest of Prism Book Alliance. Be Sure to check out their guest post here.
Full disclosure ahead – I betaed this book, but that’s not the reason why think it praiseworthy; I fell in love with this story for its own sake. Let me tell you why.
On the surface, this book tells a simple enough story. Warren and Chad have been roommates for years when one more frustrating experience with a girlfriend leads seemingly straight Chad to experimenting with gay Warren, who’s been crushing on him forever. It’s an experience that changes everything for Chad. For one, it makes Chad realize he might’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places, and for another, it’s the first time in Chad’s life that someone accepts him unconditionally, warts and all, so to speak. Because Chad has serious issues with his health and his body, and as a result, with his self-confidence too, which Warren helps him overcome one by one. Through Warren’s appreciation, Chad is almost to the point of accepting himself when fate hits and something happens that changes Chad, irrevocably and forever – first his body, and then his character, or so it seems.
And that’s where the true beauty of this book begins. Because at this point, the story opens up like a flower, revealing layer upon layer of allegories, wisdom and sympathy. I love it when that happens, when a book makes me think, makes me ask: what if?; when while reading, my eyes are opened to a new aspect of the world, one that I never before thought to consider,
In a way, this book reminded me of The Ugly Duckling, that fairytale about an ugly duckling hated by all who becomes everybody’s darling once it turns into a swan. The difference is, in this story, the duckling is the lovable one and the swan is anything but. In fact, I hated post-transition Chad, hated what he’d become, how he treated Warren. The fascinating aspect here is what post-transition Chad became is the supposed “normal”. And this is also one of the questions this book floats: what is normal? Or more precisely, what is normal for a man? And how are others supposed to react to that “normal”—acquiescing? Confrontational? Reconciling or recuperating? The answer given is not unbiased, of course; this is a work of fiction, after all, and so it’s entitled to create some kind of best of all worlds-scenario, which, at the end of the day, will remain a utopia–I may wish otherwise all I want.
There’s a lot of medical and / or scientific detail in this book, but always worked into the narrative in a way as to be unobtrusive and intelligible. As another disclosure, I know my medicine pretty well, but I couldn’t find fault with the details. If anything, I found it entertaining to guess at Chad’s medical condition along the way; it felt almost like watching “Dr. House” to me.
If I had any issues with this book, then the fact that I found its pacing a little off; in my opinion, some things moved too slow, others happened almost in a rush. But that might be only me; in general, I found the writing skillful, and sometimes even brilliant.
Overall, if you’re in the mood for a fast paced, pleasant, light read, try something else, this book is not for you. But if you’re ready to sink into an artfully crafted story full of philosophical wisdom, permeated with heartfelt human kindness and imperturbable optimism, reach for this book, you can’t go wrong.
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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