Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday, Book Style. This week I’m featuring two contemporaries – both of which pack a powerful emotional punch.
Hanging By the Moment by H.B. Pattskyn is a very raw, real portrayal of a man living with HIV. The pairing of this character with a somewhat naïve younger man–who has devoted his life to his Russian father’s business—makes for some heart tugging reading. The setting for this story is where the author lives, and is an area I lived in for years, so I know it’s 100% authentic.
Blurb: Pasha Batalov has lived his whole life doing what a good son is expected to do. He dropped out of school to help run the failing family restaurant, and ever since he’s put up with his difficult business partner, who also happens to be his father. And, of course, he keeps his sexual orientation a secret from his conservative Russian family. After being closeted costs him his first serious relationship, Pasha resigns himself to one-night stands and loneliness.
But after a chance encounter with lost delivery truck driver, Daniel Englewood, Pasha starts to question all of his assumptions about life. Daniel is sweet, funny, smart, drop-dead gorgeous—and for the last six years, he’s been living with HIV. Pasha worries that he won’t be strong enough to help Daniel if HIV turns to AIDS, but he can’t walk away from their deepening attraction. He also doesn’t know if he can be strong enough to face the hardest task that a relationship with Daniel demands: coming out to his family and friends, and risking losing everything else he holds dear.
My review: Dianne’s Review
Next up is Where You Are by J.H. Trumble. This one is somewhat controversial, as it involves a relationship between a high school teacher and his student. I implore everyone to consider reading this one, yes the subject matter is heavy on more than one level, but the writing is nothing short of exquisite. This is not a lust fest, in fact there is no explicit on page sex. Rather, it is an exploration of the hearts of not only the main characters, but of everyone else in their lives.
Robert Westfall’s life is falling apart–everywhere but in math class. That’s the one place where problems always have a solution. But in the world beyond high school, his father is terminally ill, his mother is squabbling with his interfering aunts, his boyfriend is unsupportive, and the career path that’s been planned for him feels less appealing by the day.Robert’s math teacher, Andrew McNelin, watches his best student floundering, concerned but wary of crossing the line between professional and personal. Gradually, Andrew becomes Robert’s friend, then his confidante. As the year progresses, their relationship–in school and out of it–deepens and changes. And as hard as he tries to resist, Andrew knows that he and Robert are edging into territory that holds incalculable risks for both of them.
J.H. Trumble, author of the acclaimed Don’t Let Me Go, explores a controversial subject with extraordinary sensitivity and grace, creating a deeply human and honest story of love, longing, and unexpected connection.
This review by Justin (a teacher) mirrors my thoughts (excepting the teacher component): Justin’s Goodreads Review
You might need extra tissues and cookies to get through them, but I hope you consider these gutsy, substantive reads.