Author: Elizabeth Wheeler
Publisher: Bold Strokes Publishing
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
The day fourteen-year-old Asher receives a Minolta camera from his aunt Sharon, he buys the last roll of black-and-white film and takes his first photograph—a picture of a twisted pine tree. He’s so preoccupied with his new hobby he fails to notice his dad’s plan to move out, his increasing alienation from his testosterone-ridden best friend, Levi, and his own budding sexuality. When his little brother drowns at the same moment Asher experiences his first same-sex kiss, he can no longer hide behind the lens of his camera. Asher thinks it’s his fault, but after his brother dies, his father resurfaces along with clues challenging Asher’s black-and-white view of the world. The truth is as twisted as the pine tree in his first photograph.
After uncovering the truth about his parents’ divorce and his brother’s death, fifteen-year-old Asher Price is ready for a shot at happiness. Armed with a Canon camera borrowed from his nutty neighbor, a date to homecoming, and revitalized relationships with family and friends, Asher’s on the right track. Even though Asher’s black-and-white view of the world has shifted to color, he still believes the only way to protect the people he loves is by keeping their secrets. His candid pictures capture the truth, but what if his success as a photographer requires exposing an enemy? In the end, Asher discovers protecting the people he loves can have devastating consequences, and his only shot at happiness involves revealing secrets of his own.
This was an amazing, engrossing read that I did not want to put down. The plot flowed perfectly and the characters were different and very interesting.
14-year-old Asher Wheeler is the typical self-absorbed teenager who doesn’t really pay attention to what’s going on around him until his life falls apart.
He’s shocked when his father moves out and quickly becomes involved with someone else. To make things worse, his mother doesn’t handle the divorce well at all. Asher and his younger brother Travis become estranged from their father because of their mother’s emotional issues.
Asher’s only solace is an older Minolta camera gifted to him from his aunt. He insists on only using black and white film and doesn’t like to take pictures of people. It becomes his way of looking at the world but also creates a barrier between him and everyone else. He misses the fact that he and his best friend Levi aren’t as close as they used to be, partly because Levi has become a raging horndog and Asher doesn’t have the same urges.
He makes a friend in newcomer Garrett, and doesn’t care that Garrett is gay. As their friendship deepens, it’s obvious to the reader that Asher is falling for Garrett, but he has no idea himself. Until one fateful day at the pool after a particularly stressful day at church.
Asher’s sadness and his brother’s behavioral problem have basically gone unnoticed by their mother and she sends them to the pool to get them out of her hair. Asher runs into Garrett and leaves Travis in line for food while he and Garrett explore a closed off area of the locker room. That’s when Asher has a first inkling that he might be gay and he and Garrett share a kiss.
However, at the same time there is an accident and Travis dies. So Asher’s first romantic experience is forever linked with the death of his younger brother.
Asher then has to deal with his mother’s escalating emotional problems, his own self-recrimination, and the return of his father in his life. He becomes even more detached from the world around him and pushes Garrett away, despite the young man’s attempt to help Asher deal.
The author perfectly nailed Asher’s moods and behaviors. When asked questions his normal response is either to shrug or say “I don’t know.” Such typical adolescent actions, whether they’re dealing with the death of a loved one or just life in general.
Asher isn’t lying with his responses, however, he truly has no idea what he’s doing or even what he should be doing. He’s torn between his parents, who, though well intentioned, have no idea how to treat Asher.
By the end of the book, Asher learned that not everything in life is black and white and that maybe his father wasn’t the one to blame in the divorce—as his mother had lead him to believe.
In the second book of the trilogy, Asher has a different camera, after breaking his Minolta in the first book. He’s also transitioned to using color film, a signal to his realization that his mother wasn’t completely honest with him when it came to the divorce.
I don’t want to spoil the secret because it was one that took me by surprise but Asher spends most of the book dealing with the revelation in one way or another. His friendship with Levi changes in a drastic way, becoming worse before it becomes better.
The author created a fabulous supporting cast of realistic teenagers, friends and foes of Asher and all of them function in Asher’s continuing self-discovery. Even the obnoxious jock Josh shows growth, which was a shock because I hated the kid for most of the book.
Asher’s biggest issue is Garrett and his new relationship with a stoner kid named Iggy. Asher isn’t able to admit he’s gay but he isn’t straight either. He doesn’t see his emotions as jealousy, he just doesn’t like the idea of Iggy and Garrett together.
Our hero goes through a lot in the book, though it seemed to drag at times. I would’ve liked to have seen things speed up a bit and thought there were some unneeded scenes, such as Asher meeting his step-mother’s family. The cast was already full and the inclusion of them cluttered things.
By the end of the book, Asher had pretty much dealt with the secret he’d been keeping, but even more importantly he finally accepted he was gay.
I love Garrett and Asher and cannot wait for the third book so I can actually see the pair together.
Overall total: 4 stars
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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