elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Best Bisexual/Transgender Contemporary (3° place): The Cranberry Hush by Ben Monopoli

Also Best Bisexual/Transgender Debut Novel (3° place)

This is one story about three men: Vince and Griff were in college together and roommate for 1 year; Vince was bisexual and Griff was straight, but heart doesn’t have gender and Vince fell in love for Griff. When the love was not reciprocated, Vince chose to avoid the issue avoiding Griff, and their friendship had an abrupt stop, something Griff was not able to understand.

Now years later, Griff is knocking at Vince’s door: he was dumped by his girlfriend, he needs a place to stay and Vince has no courage to say no, even if he is just out a relationship with a girl, Melanie, a relationship with some loose ends, and is bringing a torch for his employee Zane, a cute 20 years old gay boy.

I really like how the author built Vince’s character; I think this is one of the best bisexual character I have ever read. I’m true, bisexual characters are not usually my cup of tea since I really can’t understand them; that is exactly what the same Vince says, people don’t understand him since women think he is trying to stay in the closet if he is dating them, and men think he is curious but not really gay if he still likes women when he is with a man. And I also like the question Griff makes to Vince, if he is not uncomfortable with the fact that basically he cannot be ever sure if the person in front of him will be a lover or a friend, since there is no really clear role distinction. Actually, from Vince’s point of view, that is not an issue at all, on the contrary, maybe it’s an asset; problem is that, he is falling in love for every person he meets, and the logical consequence is also that he is more than likely then not fated to a broken heart.

The author was very good in maintaining the suspense on Zane/Vince/Griff ménages a trois until the end of the story, until the very last page everything was possible, and in the end, no one was disappointed by the final solution. There is a subtle different between deep friendship and love, even more in the case of Vince who can basically love everyone, and for this reason, the final solution is not an impossible one. I also appreciated Griff’s character, he was honest and good at heart, someone everyone would be lucky to have both as a friend or lover.

Even if the main theme of the story was the complex net of relationships between the three men, there was also an subplot that I liked, how it was difficult for these twenty something guys overcome the gap between college and real life; usually guys move from family to college and then to life in a smooth move, but for some of them can be traumatic, especially for those who simply substituted family with college: once you graduated, you realize you are really alone in the world and that you need to start to provide after yourself… not an easy realization and not an easy step. For some of these guys, college friends continue to be a mainstay of their life, and loosing them is not an option.

On a closing note, the writing style was really original, and probably one of the most interesting thing of all the novel: the story is told in first point of view by Vince, and it’s like a brainstorming of a week in his life, the week when Griff came back in it; each chapter is marked by a day of the week and in the middle of the brainstorming, Vince mixes memories of his college time and sometime even some flashback of when he was a teenager.

Amazon Kindle: The Cranberry Hush: A Novel
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading_list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: ben monopoli, genre: contemporary, length: novel, rainbow awards 2011, review, theme: friends benefits, theme: gay for you, theme: menage

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