elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Best Gay Contemporary General Fiction: Sweet Like Sugar by Wayne Hoffman

You want to read a wonderful, sweet and yes, also romantic novel? Sweet Like Sugar is that for me. Among a plethora of novels with naked torso covers, this one stood out and attracted me. Reading the blurb, I was aware this was not a romance, but the story of an unlikely friendship between a 85 years old Orthodox rabbi and a 27 years old gay Jewish guy. So no, I wasn’t expecting for it to be romantic, and when that was the turn it took, it was a more than nice surprise.

Basically Rabbi Zuckerman is still mourning the loss of his beloved wife Sophie and to him it’s unbelievable that Benji isn’t searching for his soul mate, his bashert. On the other hand, Benji cannot tell to the more than conservative rabbi that he is gay. Aside for that, Benji is searching, but apparently he is not lucky in the boyfriends department. Now don’t start to think that Benji is some nerdy guy who only by miracle will find a Mr Right; even if the author doesn’t spend a lot of time emphasizing Benji’s good looks, it’s clear from the string of nice men passing through Benji’s life that he is a good catch for a good gay boy, problem is no one is good enough. I was starting to think that Benji was a little too much picky, when I realized what he was doing: picking be default the wrong guy, Benji was unconsciously avoiding to find his bashert. Benji was disconnected with his legacy, he refused his Jewish origins and with that, he refused also his true self; Benji didn’t think being gay and being Jewish could coexist, and he is always ready for rejection, since he is sure rejection will arrive. In a way, it’s with a self-punishment instinct that Benji befriends Rabbi Zuckerman, since that rejection is more likely to come from him than from anyone else. And rejection will arrive but with that will also arrive for Benji the chance to understand that it’s not from being gay, or being Jewish, that is coming his issues, but more from his detachment from his own self.

I like the tone of the novel, it was easy without being light; and it was not preaching, not at all. Even if Benji has some issue to accept himself, his sexuality and his beliefs, he is coming from a somewhat privileged environment, and maybe that is also where his issues are coming too. Benji’s family is more or less supportive, his father 100%, and his mother a little less, but mainly since Benji is not observant enough of his Jewish heritage. Being gay is also not something his parents would have wanted, but it’s not a reason to reject him, and Benji is still more than welcome to join the family. Benji was expecting rejection and since it didn’t find it in his family, he goes and finds it somewhere else; Benji needs the rejection to start questioning his life, and with the questions will arrive the answers and with the answers the moment when Benji will be really ready to accept his bashert.


Amazon: Sweet Like Sugar
Amazon Kindle: Sweet Like Sugar
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington; 1 Original edition (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 075826562X
ISBN-13: 978-0758265623

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: wayne hoffman, genre: contemporary, length: novel, rainbow awards 2012, review

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