I recently saw this book recommended on Instagram and remembered I’d read another book from this author last year (Brushed With Love) and had really enjoyed it. I immediately went and downloaded a copy. I love stories that span a long period of time as this one does. The love you find in stories like that tends to be of the epic variety and I would say that Matt and Alex’s love certainly felt epic.
Having met when Matt was 17 and Alex was 18, they were two guys who, in theory, should have never crossed paths. But when they found themselves serving detention together, an unlikely friendship formed between the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the kind, sweet boy from a loving upper-middle-class family. Matt knew for a while that he was gay and had worked hard trying to act the opposite. The story starts in 1995 and things were quite different then, it was pure self-preservation for Matt to stay buried deep in the closet. But that didn’t stop him from crushing on his new best friend. Alex had always fancied girls so he was very confused when he started to develop more than friendly feelings toward the smart-mouthed, raven-haired boy he’d been spending all his time with. He may not have understood what it meant for his sexuality but Alex never doubted his love for Matt. Young love doesn’t usually last but that doesn’t make it any less powerful or life-altering. When tragedy struck and Matt disappeared from Alex’s life, he settles into a boring predictable life and is left wondering what could have been if only Matt hadn’t vanished all those years ago. Nearly twenty-five years later a chance encounter brought Matt back into his life and Alex was determined to not let Matt slip through his fingers yet again.
I thought this book was incredibly well written. The first half takes place in 1995 and is from Matt’s POV and I thought it perfectly captured what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. Matt didn’t have an easy go of it. Being gay in the 90s was hard enough but he also had an incredibly difficult home life. He could temporarily leave all that behind, though, during the precious time he spent with Alex. These boys falling in love was so pure and sweet. For all the angst this story dealt with, and there was A LOT, the love these two shared was never a question.
After they’re separated as teens, the story jumps ahead 10 years and we see the sorry state of these two men. The POVs alternate at this point and we see the different paths their lives have taken, followed by a “ships passing in the night” moment that’ll tug at your heartstrings. From there the story jumps another 15 years and Alex takes over as narrator for the remainder of the story. Another twist of fate has these two men crossing paths once more. Matt’s life has never been easy and time hasn’t done a whole lot to change that. And despite outward appearances, Alex has been through his fair share of tough times. But despite the time and life experiences, the one thing that’s still true is their deep love for one another. The second half of the story has them figuring out if they can fit into each other’s lives after 25 years.
As I mentioned, this book is chock full of angst, pretty much all the way through. But none of it was contrived or felt forced. It was simply the result of being dealt a shitty hand. There’s a certain sadness thinking of them losing out on 25 years together, but I don’t think either of them would have been truly ready for each other had it not been for all they’d been through separately. I love a hard-earned happily ever after and these men certainly earned theirs. I feel like I’ve probably divulged too much already with this review and I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read it yet so I’ll wrap this up. But I enjoyed this story very much and there’s now a soft spot in my heart for Matt and Alex!