This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance, New Adult Romance
Published by Samhain Publishing
Released on April 7, 2015
I saw an early review on this book and the reader’s descriptions absolutely captivated me so I knew I had to pick this one up and read it. The author is already an established favorite plus this was the beginning of a new series so win all around.
I’ve always had a huge admiration for people who face disabilities because, seriously, life is hard without them so that just makes them have to work even harder and do that much more for their achievements. And when they do, they’re extra strong having gone through those fires on top of the average person’s struggles. When I saw this was a love story between a young man with autism and a young man with severe depression and anxiety, I just had to read such a heartwarming, triumphant tale of romance.
[quote]I don’t like to hate myself, and hating my autism is hating myself, but right then I was so angry, I wanted to be a different person.
Loc 543 Emmet from Carry the Ocean[/quote]
[quote]”I’m too different, mom. I don’t want to be so different.”
“Everyone’s different. Some people are more able to shove their differences into the dark, to blend in and be sheep, but that isn’t always a good thing.”
“I’d rather be a sheep than be alone…”
Loc 791 Emmet from Carry the Ocean[/quote]
[quote]”My emotions feel loud and big. Its hard for me to keep hold of them. They weigh me down. Make me heavy and tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel like everyone else is carrying a bucket of water, but I’m trying to carry an ocean. Its very hard. Sometimes I would rather not carry my ocean, if it meant I couldn’t be alive.
Loc 1242 Jeremey from Carry the Ocean[/quote]
The story begins with Emmet Washington moving to a new town with his family, settling in and then crushing on the boy who lives in the house behind his. Emmet is a brilliant man- a genius actually, but he is autistic and that means he struggles with social skills making it nearly impossible to make friends or tell a guy he likes him and wants to date. But Emmet is not easily deterred. He teaches himself how to make conversation, recognize facial and body cues, and his wonderful family is behind him all the way supporting his needs and working with him. At the block party, he takes up his courage and asks Jeremey if they can be friends hoping to work him around to something more.
Jeremey started having troubles with depression and having panic attacks in high school that only got worse the harder his parents rode him to be normal. He was screaming inside. He had to graduate from home school, he couldn’t go into public and he certainly couldn’t cope with strong emotional scenes without panicking and curling into a ball on the ground. Into his dreary world, barges Emmett. Emmet gets him and after a bit of time and education, Jeremey gets Emmett. They have a blissful summer of friendship together before the fear of college and his parents finding out that he and Emmet are now becoming more than friends.
Emmet is sent reeling when Jeremey’s parents discover their relationship and so do his own. Jeremey is lost to him until they find a way to communicate through texts as the storm of their parents’ reaction rage around them. It is Jeremey’s drastic actions that finally get everyone’s attention and things change from there. Emmet is determined that he and Jeremey will move out of their parent’s homes into their own place and live independently. Both young men work hard for it even as they work hard to prove that they are ready to be together in a relationship.
[quote]”Nice place you got here.” She grinned and chuckled as she pointed at the rocker by the window. “There it is, my boy Emmet’s chair. But where he at?”
I glanced at the counter, where the offending appliance loomed. “There was…an issue. With toast.”
Tammy rolled her eyes knowingly, not unkindly but as if she knew all about devil toasters, the bastards. “I got this, sweetheart, don’t worry.” She sashayed to the door of Emmet’s room and knocked five times. “Emmet, honey, it’s Tammy. I want to hear all about this toaster.”
Loc 2596 Jeremey and Tammy from Carry the Ocean[/quote]
[quote]To be with Jeremey meant managing my autism, my octopus and my feelings. I would be a great deal of work, all the time, more intense than the most complicated math problem in the world. Except this was so much more wonderful than any math problem could be.
Loc 1008 Emmet from Carry the Ocean[/quote]
There is nothing typical about this story and many times I caught my breath on a deeply poignant moment or insightful piece that opened my eyes just a bit more toward this small community of people living amongst us. This is an amazing journey both separately and together for Jeremey and Emmett. The story is told first person alternating between the two guys as narrators. Both have separate personality and individual tales. I can’t praise the author enough for how accurate and real it felt to be inside Jeremey and Emmett’s heads. I’ve taught children with autism as well as worked with people with moderate mental health issues and it all rang very true. Wish I would have had some of this insight years ago when I was struggling to understand.
The romance in this one is sweet and tender and tentative, but passionate too. It develops in baby steps, but the pacing is just right for Emmett and Jeremey. They had to figure out how to express their feelings and wishes, accommodate individual needs (i.e. Emmet doesn’t like to be touched; Jeremey needs to be touched), and then prove to their parents that they understood what it was to have and be in a relationship. Can you imagine being a nineteen year old college student and having to prove that you know how to date and understand that type of relationship? Emmet is brilliant and his parents encourage him and love him as he is, but even they have reservations about him understanding love and handling having/being a boyfriend. The two face people who see them as freaks separately, but particularly when they are together.
Emmet is Jeremey’s rock and he is the catalyst for making things happen for both of them. Emmet helps Jeremey out of the dark corners of his mind and teaches him to cope, modify and embrace his differences. Jeremey is Emmet’s treasure. His love and acceptance of Emmet is a validation in so many ways that Emmett’s big dreams for his unusual life can come true-boyfriend, independent living, and a job. As with everything else for them, love does not simplify and it’s even harder, but the usual bumps in the relationship of sharing a new home, jealousy, new neighbors, and communication are there. I smiled as I read their first attempt at kissing. It was an adorable moment.
[quote]Starting was tricky. In my head I wanted us to melt together, to move gracefully into each other’s spaces, but my body doesn’t work that way. It’s clumsy. It doesn’t listen to me. I’m better than I used to be-I’ve done all kinds of therapy, but I still move differently. Add that Jeremey’s body is hesitant, and it meant our kiss was more of a thump.
Loc. 1040 Emmet from Carry the Ocean[/quote]
On a side note, there are some interesting extras in the story. Blues Brothers fans will have a particularly good time. Emmet is a huge fan. Huge! But there is more. Music plays a strong role so there are enough song references to fill a playlist. And Emmet shows the internet is a powerful tool for learning what he needs to know, but also what others in his life need to know. One of these online tools that he shares with Jeremey is the You Tube clip of Carley’s Cafe to give him a point of reference for what autism is like (and it’s really on there by the way). Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmDGvquzn2k
The romance was a triumphant one that was just part of this wonderful story of two guys finding their way. I learned so much more than I thought I knew and would recommend this for anyone, but especially professionals and family members who cares to understand this population of folk right in their own community because of the impact of this story that shares how it feels, how it looks and what its like from the inside. The age of the guys would make this an M/M New Adult, but I think adult fiction and Contemporary Romance lover would enjoy it too. Can’t wait for the next installment of the series.
My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the second story I’ve read where both main characters are people with disabilities and they both happen to be m/m contemporary romance. They were fantastic. I was wondering if there are any others out there that people could recommend and not just m/m, but any type of couple (or more). Have you read a good romance involving characters with disabilities?
Romance Roundabout #163 NA
New to Me #72 series
Cliché Klatch #66 ‘Always know where I stand’
Books N Tunes #28 Blues Brothers’ Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
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