elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Something Like Summer by Jay Bell

What could have been a simple and harmless coming of age story in the ’90, in the hand of Jay Bell becomes a somewhat surprisingly deep and a little sad quest of a young man towards his future.

Of the many trouble gay kids I have read about, in novels filled with angst and drama, Ben Bentley is probably one of the luckier: he accepted he was gay at a more or less young age, around 14 years old, and after some months spent being the best “secret” friends of his fellow schoolmates, he decided to come out; this event had two consequences, one positive, his family is supportive of him and his mother arrives to give him relationship advices, and one negative, he has no more friends if not Allison, a same age girl who was a former friend of his older sister. But sincerely, being Ben in high school and almost read to face the big brave world, one year or two of abstinence from sex is not a big drama if he is lucky enough to have a welcoming habitat, his home, were he can grow up safe and comfortable.

For this reason, as many other ordinary teenagers in the world, Ben falls in love for a stranger he only crosses on the street while the other is jogging. Same age as Ben, he is probably a new kid at the same high school Ben will attend at the end of the summer; Ben stalks the other teenager until he is able to find out the name is Tim and he is living nearby. And indeed Tim attends the same high school. And the problem is that Ben has came out at school and so everyone, and above all the jocks Tim is friending, call Ben names. It’s not easy for a gay kid to come out in high school, teenagers are not always welcoming, and above all they are still unsure of their own, and Ben is an unsettling presence, someone who scares some of them.

For an event and also thanks to Ben’s insistence and perseverance, Tim and Ben make friends, but Tim doesn’t want to acknowledge their friendship in public: not only Tim is from a very conservative family, he is also claiming (or pretending) that he is bisexual, and he has a poster girlfriend; plus Tim has his own issues at home, and some bad experiences in the past, and more or less he doesn’t want to be on center stage, under the scrutiny of public opinion.

From a teenager perspective, and the reader external point of view, the relationship between Tim and Ben when they are in high school is unbalanced: Ben is obviously in love and Tim, as probably any other teenager in the world would do, is taking advantage of that; Tim is not a bad guy, most of the time he grants Ben everything the other kid wants, even when Tim knows it will be trouble for him. Little by little, I started to understand Tim’s point of view, how Ben is pushing him at the pace that is probably too fast for him. Ben is not an adult, he is a kid, and like that, he cannot understand that very important things need time.

I will not really go further in describing the story, basically the story follows Ben and Tim from high school to college to their late twenty, sometime together sometime far from each other; Ben will also love someone else, Jace, and while Tim is Ben’s first love, powerful and passionate, Jace is Ben’s true love, cultivated and strong. It’s quite impossible to say who Ben loves more, Tim and Jace are different kind of love, and I think Ben was lucky enough to experiment both of them. The strange thing is that, while Ben and Tim are obviously the “heroes” of this novel, the real good character, the perfect hero in a way, is Jace; I’m true, I think Ben and Tim are cute and nice, but they are also characters that need to grow, while instead Jace is a wonderful man, a light in the life of Ben, and probably the one that allowed Ben to move from kid to man.

Amazon: Something Like Summer
Amazon Kindle: Something Like Summer
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1453875042
ISBN-13: 978-1453875049

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Andreas Bell
Tags: author: jay bell, genre: contemporary, length: novel, review, theme: coming of age, theme: virgins

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