Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Steve Kluger - Almost Like Being in Love

A high school jock and nerd fall in love senior year, only to part after an amazing summer of discovery to attend their respective colleges. They keep in touch at first, but then slowly drift apart. Flash forward twenty years. Travis and Craig both have great lives, careers, and loves. But something is missing .... 
Travis is the first to figure it out. He's still in love with Craig, and come what may, he's going after the boy who captured his heart, even if it means forsaking his job, making a fool of himself, and entering the great unknown. 
Told in narrative, letters, checklists, and more, this is the must-read novel for anyone who's wondered what ever happened to that first great love. 

Comment: This book has been on the pile for a long time. Most of them are, but still. I got it because I saw some friends liked it a lot and being myself a fan of m/m romance and epistolary plots, I added the book to the pile. Then time went by....and by....you know, the usual fate of so many books, it got "lost" in the pile but last month I remembered I had it and voilá, this month I decided to finally get to it and it's one of those I feel sorry I didn't pick earlier.

This is Travis' and Craig's story. They meet in senior year at high school and slowly fall in love although they don't understand it at first. When they finally do, it's almost time for them to go separate ways into different colleges. They spend a memorable summer together but distance eventually makes it mark.
20 years pass until Travis realizes he can't fall in love with someone else - despite his trying - because he still loves Craig. Then Travis decides to go after Craig and win him back and get his HEA at last. But will Craig be willing - and available - when he is found?

I had such a good time reading this story. I tell you, I was in a state of anxiety you can't know if you haven't read this because I really wanted to know how this would end. 
It's difficult to explain certain things about this book without spoilers, even more so why this wasn't a perfect read for me, especially when I thought so right until the last 20 pages or so. Let's just say there's a certain knowledge we are aware of during the book, but the characters aren't. Then when everything happens and the characters act on the new found information, I admit I can't point out why I'm bothered exactly, but I am. I liked there's an HEA but some actions took place for that to happen and in a way, I think I didn't like how that was accomplished. Because things weren't simple to solve. This sounds so mysterious and enigmatic but really, it's all very obvious, but...I'm trying not to spoil the secret that makes this book so intriguing.

The story is told through notes, emails, phone conversations, checklists, thing other characters see and tell, and sometimes from the main characters' notebooks. I love this style of showing a story, we still get an idea of how everyone is and what makes them worthy of having a story to tell, but it's full of imagination and we have to make an effort to read between the lines, I like the challenge. 
The author also shows off his immense knowledge about politics, history, sports and human traits and creates here a very special but well structured novel about falling in love, about honoring and looking for your first love and what it means to hope and to do the right thing.

The romance is very cute. Usually I don't like the "going down the memory lane" plots but in this case, not only by the unique narrative style but mainly because these characters come alive beautifully, I enjoyed seeing their lives, how hey met and started hanging out, there's really an almost sort of magical vibe in the story that drives the reader crazy in trying to know what happens. I know some readers found the story boring and I understand how the way things are told can be a challenge but really, if one tries, this story is fresh and cute and full or irony and comic situations and sweet love...it's very worth the time it takes to read.

I liked this story a lot and it's one of those I'll try to re-read when I can. The main characters are special and wonderful, the secondary characters offer a huge range of possibilities and allow this to be amazing instead of just plain, and apart from my issue with how things were solved at the end, the reading was an absolutely amazing experience, I recommend it. And I'm definitively trying more books by the author.
Grade: 8/10

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