Released on January 14, 2013
I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read this one when I was given the opportunity. I’m not sure I would have picked it up on my own, I’m ashamed to admit, because Young Adult Contemporary is still a little explored genre for me. However, it was placed in my hands and I trust the author so I gamely plunged in. Sooo glad I did. This was such a good for the heart coming of age story that thankfully was devoid of unnecessary angst or the love triangles that get me nervous about YA literature.
The story begins when a highschool boy, David, who lives with his widowed mother is forced to move yet again at the end of his school year so she can take a better job position in her company. This move is not terribly far away as in actual distance, but its worlds away from the difference in city life to country life. David now has a whole summer stretched out before him with no car to leave the house, no job, and no friends while his mom works.
But lo and behold there is a ray of light. Across the road is an Amish family and after a brief misunderstanding he becomes acquainted with Benjamin who is his age. They meet down by the creek on a hot summer day when Benjamin comes for a swim to cool off. The Amish don’t mix with the English (non-Amish) so its all rather tentative and cautious on Benjamin’s part at first. David realizes that just the contact with him is slightly overwhelming for Benjamin so he must be patient. With time, a friendship begins between the two boys that must remain secret with snatched moments together. That is until an act of kindness on David’s part allows Benjamin to openly acknowledge him as a friend. In the meantime, David starts to make friends and feel comfortable with his new school.
Being with Benjamin and even more so thinking about being with Benjamin reinforces what David has learned about himself already. He is gay and beyond that, he is attracted to Benjamin. David has no idea what to do with this truth so he keeps it to himself. But like all truth, it eventually comes out. David takes a big chance by telling Benjamin the truth about himself and he tells his mother. This was very hard for him, but eventually it also settles things for him when Benjamin not only accepts him, but admits that he has feelings for David.
Much of the story then becomes a time when the boys grow a closer relationship, but also makes them realize that Benjamin has a really huge choice ahead of him because unfortunately he cannot have it all. He must choose the Community and that way of life or choose to leave it and be shunned to live in the world where he can be true to himself.
The plot for this story is told all from David’s perspective and that works out fine because David relates Benjamin’s side of things well. The pace is gentle and thoughtful as this is no ordinary friendship and relationship. Each little movement forward is a huge step.
The characters were easily loveable. David and Benjamin were both good and good for each other. David’s mom and friends were great. I’m envious of David for his friendship with Lynn because she had the best advice. I got a kick out of how Benjamin’s little brothers seemed to always pop up just when the boys finally got some time together. It was also cute how David had that epiphany moment when he realized that his mother really cared and offered him solid advice and warning (yes teens they do understand you better than you think. Haha!).
I have to say that I was pleased how the Amish point of view was handled. I respect their life choices and though its not for everyone, it is a worthy way to live. Not to say that I wasn’t moved by the heartbreaking decision that Benjamin was forced to make or that I condone possible abusive behavior, but I appreciate that this was not taken as a moment to slam a culture.
As I do with any YA review, I’ll say that bad language and violence are absent with mild sexual overtones present.
I recommend this to those who enjoy a gently paced m/m contemporary coming of age story.
Thank you to the author for providing me my copy in exchange for an honest review.