"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." - Oscar Wilde
4 New Adult Stars
This was good!
Toby grew up in small town Oregon, already a little on the ouside because he is black, and even more so because he is the only out gay kid. The relationship with his father is complicated at best, and it's his best friend is the one thing making his days brighter. Not counting Levi. And he can't count Lev, his best friend's older brother, because he is the only guy he absolutely shouldn't have a crush on. But he does. Even years later, when they all meet again in their hometown.
The story is told in Toby's POV, and I liked him immediately. It felt real, and sucked me right in. But the real treasure of this book is the combined coming-of-age story of both MCs. Levi's even more so than Toby's. Because Levi poses a very hard question. When you get everything you worked for, what are you supposed to do once you realize it's not what you want or need?
After doing everything right, working his ass off and trying to make his dad proud, Levi is so close to becoming the doctor he was always supposed to be. Only, he can't do it. He really can't. The pressure is eating him alive, the ansgt and fear paralyze and terrify him to the point of needing medication.
He was the one who really grabbed me, and didn't let me go. His struggles were real, his concerns valid and his anxiety off the charts. And I'm absolutely sure he represents a pretty large part of our young generations. How many students start college right after school, do all the works, accumulate all the debt, only to realize later how miserable they are on their path? How many graduates have no clue what to do with their life, because the path others chose for them is irreconcilable with who they've become? It's a very common problem, and one that is not understood by many. Mostly, because the first reaction to this is exactly what Levi's famlily thinks: You worked for it, you earned it, you paid for it - their is no way you won't use it now! Probably because "outsiders" have no idea how it feels to have this hollow feeling inside every time you think about the future/carreer you don't want. Plus, the majority of people is only able to see the "failure" in it, just like Levi does. Which is such a dangerous way of thinking, and an even more dangerous way of living. It destroys the innner peace, it spoils every event in your life until nothing's left but anxiety and the disapproval of others. It almost broke Levi, and even Toby, in the process.
I was impressed with this story, and really touched. Nyrae Dawn did a great job writing about such a complex issue, and different ways of coming-of-age, with only one POV and a believable romance added to the mix.
Very good. It will definitely stay with me for a while.