"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
This was so hard to read...
Jamal is a young man, a guest student in the US, having his first taste of freedom. Because he is a Muslim, gay, and is already afraid of going back home East, where he will either conform and marry a girl, or come out and not only loose his family, but probably also his life.
But for as long as he's in the US, he really likes to at least pretend to be free for a second. And when he meets Matt, really meets him, it all gets intense very fast. It tender, tentative and heart-breaking. Especially because it gets you thinking about all the repercussions the opression of the LGBTQ community all over the world really has. The problem of safe sex and testing is one of them, and one that a lot of people (me included) sometimes completely forget about. We focus on the violence, the mortal danger, the torture. What we tend to forget is the everyday life and what that kind of oppression really means. It doesn't matter how educated you are, how far away from home you are, how different your current freedom is from the rest of your life - it always stays with you. And you will always see repercussions for your acrtions everywhere. And I loved how the author managed to show it without saying it.
I enjoyed this story very much. Matt might not have been my most favorite person in the world. I found his empathy and understanding to be lacking. A lot. Seriously, how selfish and ignorant can you be? Never heard of persecution because of one's sexuality? Never heard about gay witch hunts or honor killings? Maaaaan. Really. But on the other hand - and it's hard for me to swallow - I can understand that his experiences with oppression are really non-existent. So who am I to judge so harshly? But I couldn't help but be annoyed with him.
Jamal was the gem of this story for me. His POV, his thoughts, his fears really stayed with me and made me think about him and people in similar situation for quite some time. Really good.
The writing wasn't as smooth as I'd have liked, but it wasn't bad. I did love the set-up and how it all turned out. The ending was perfect, and fit the tentative and unsure tone of the story perfectly. A HEA would have been ridicolous under the circumstances and if you're honest, then I'm not sure if there even was a possible soution for Jamal's drama. But I'd still love to read more about these two.