What a superb novel this was, especially when I learned that it was the author’s first. Published in 2011 this was a real inspiration for me as I tackle the challenge of creating as good a debut work. I stumbled upon this book on goodreads and based on the very positive reviews and overall theme, I thought it would be a good one to check out in my search for novels that had some bearing on the book I am writing. I am so glad I did. The story centers around two teenage boys living close to modern-day Houston who meet in high school and quickly fall in love. Adam, a year older than Nate, upon graduation takes an off-Broadway writing position in Manhattan largely due to Nate’s insistence that he follow his dreams. Even though they both loathe the separation, they try their best to stay connected. Trying to maintain a long distance relationship becomes even more problematic when the two are Skyping one evening and Nate spots Adam’s shirtless and attractive roommate leaning over Adam. Jealousy and resentment build, leading to Nate starting a blog to give himself an outlet for his frustrations. His blog in turn creates a huge controversy in the community thanks to the “I’m gay and proud” in-your-face theme of the site. Things reach a tipping point when a younger boy Luke, who is still in the closet, is drawn to Nate and Nate starts developing feelings in return. Through effective use of flashbacks we also get much of the back story. Probably the most important of these flashbacks involves Nate being the victim of a brutally severe homophobic attack while he and Adam are both still in high school. The details of this attack are gradually revealed rather than having all the information dumped on the reader at one time. I won’t reveal anymore of the plot in hopes that what I have written will interest you and you too will want to read the book.
The story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I found both the plot and characters well constructed and engrossing. In addition to Nate and Adam I found the secondary characters to be quite believable as well. The novel is written from the POV of Nate but the author does an excellent job of getting the reader inside the heads of the other characters so one can get a good understanding of each of their perspectives. This is a very sweet, tender coming-of-age novel but not one that is overly sweet, throwing in enough drama and darkness to make it all seem very real. All of the characters have their flaws and since this so much is Nate’s story, his flaws are quite evident. He is impulsive and foolish at times and certainly does his share of dumb things. There are times when I wanted to kick him in the butt and other times when I wanted to tell him to stop being so insecure. But through it all he is someone who is sympathetic and who I wanted to see succeed.
I even loved the title of the book because it succinctly sums up several of the recurring themes. The author followed up this book with Where You Are which deals with the taboo subject of teacher/student intimacy and has another one due in the fall Just Between Us which is the story of Luke, one of the critical characters in Don’t Let Me Go. Based on the wonderful job the author did with her first novel I eagerly look forward to reading both of these works as well.