Thursday, June 18, 2015

Megan Erickson - Trust the Focus

With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.
As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.
But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.
Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.

Comment: This book was recommended to me. I looked at it and got it some time later. The concept seemed intriguing and although I don't have any particular taste for the friends-to-lovers trope I was willing to try and judge its content.

This is the story of Justin, he just graduated and is traveling with his best friend Landry to honor his father's memory and to spread his ashes. Justin's father was a photographer and he wants to follow his steps but he made a commitment to his mother about a job and his personal life and he wants a road rip of freedom before letting himself become what she wants him to be.
Landry is gay and out but that never changed how Justin saw him. However, Justin has a secret, he actually is gay and th lie doesn't seem easy to handle anymore. He loves his best friend and he wants time with him before he has to assume a role where his feelings will keep hidden permanently.

This story is told from Justin's POV. The only time we have Landry's words is in blog posts scenes in the end of some chapters. Of course every reader knows first person POV helps us to empathize with the narrator which can be good but it also stops us from seeing some important things from others' perspectives. I think this situation would have been positive, despite the focus being clearly about Justin's personal journey.

The plot isn't hard to accomplish, the two guys are doing a route of places where Justin's father worked in and they are spreading ashes in those places that made his dad so happy. The action is fast paced and they don't stay too long in each place. The interesting part is how Justin deals with memories and his mourning while facing the fact he couldn't be truthful to his dad before he died, that his best friend who is always by his side even in the trip is someone he feels he can't openly love and that he's doomed for a life of hiding and sadness.
This being primarily a romance, of course there are situations that happen and provide the setting for a change of plans. Stuff happens and it comes a point where Justin has to be honest. As it turns out, his feelings are reciprocated and there are some hot/sweet scenes with the guys talking and making out.

However, this aren't as simple as that. I liked the author didn't turn this into a insta-lust driven story from that point on. Justin feels happy but he still needs to come to terms about himself and his life now that he's gotten something he didn't think he would. There are some scenes where we see Justin's fear and uncertainty and sincerely I found this more honest than blind acceptance. If you go through a hard time (he's in mourning, don't forget) and still have to deal with a sexuality acceptance, and love at the same time, I don't think it would be weird something not working 100% right away. 
So there are some parts where we see some angst and misunderstandings that are suppose to be a moral lesson in the sense that we must follow out heart, do the right thing, think before acting or speaking, and so on. Thankfully, the author didn't stretch this to unbelievable territory and things worked out well in the end.

Justin and Landry are a good couple because they are used to each other. Many scenes are meant to put their friendship in evidence as well as the easiness of their being together even before love declarations. Still, some of those scenes were so...artfully put together I couldn't go past the fact why they were there. The story flows but we can't help but notice them for their role.
The romance works and in epilogue is sweet and full of hope.

In the end I liked reading this story, I liked how some subjects were dealt with but this isn't super amazing. Still I'd read more by the author.
There's a sequel but from the blurb I can't tell which is the connection.
Anyway, this one I recommend but it's not perfection.
Grade: 7/10

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