Author: Joe Cosentino
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Christy Caughie
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.
Harold High has his happy ever after. Say that five times fast.
You must remember that 3 stars means good in my world, so 3.5 is very good. In Joe Cosentino’s “An Infatuation,” I really liked Harold, and his husband Stuart (who, most amusingly, is very like Harold’s father). What I liked best about this short book is that it is essentially a young adult book written from an adult’s perspective, with an adult’s memories. What we get is Harold’s retelling of his decades-old infatuation with high school football jock Mario Ginetti. In his trip down memory lane, he is egged on by his partner of nearly twenty years who, while annoying in some ways, is clearly the love of Harold’s life. I don’t think I’ve encountered this sort of narrative structure before in a YA novel. Cosentino manages, through Harold’s middle-aged eyes and heart, to relive Harold’s high school experiences. There is humor and pain and all the discomforts of adolescence, but there is also the wisdom of years shaping the story. My problem with the book, that half-star that’s missing, is that I never quite embraced Mario Ginetti, the romantic lead in the drama. It is easy to see how the awkward, teenaged Harold would fall for the dumb jock. This is the classic stuff of YA novels, after all. I also particularly liked the way Mario is presented at this early stage by Cosentino—Mario is as screwed up as we would expect any jock trying hard not to be gay to be. But he is beautiful and one can’t help but remember teenage infatuations and their irrationality.
What I had trouble buying into was the later appearances of Mario in Harold’s life. I don’t want to spoil anything, because Cosentino creates a good narrative sequence to bring us up to the present. Unlike Harold, I ceased to be charmed—or even particularly interested—in Mario after high school. I thus found it difficult to understand Harold’s own undying infatuation with this callow boy who used him when he was most vulnerable. Cosentino didn’t convince me that Mario was worth it, that Harold’s feelings made any sense in an adult deeply in love with someone else.
I do want people to read this book, because I loved the set up and I loved the lifelong arc of its romantic thread. Maybe you’ll be more taken by Mario than I was. Perhaps you will be caught up in Harold’s infatuation more fully than I was. Possibly, since I never really had a high school infatuation, I just don’t know what it’s like.
I could be wrong, and that’s why I want you to read this book.
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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