1) One word that comes to mind in describing this story is 'Beautiful'. It's the sort of story that leaves you satisfied once your reach the end and a story that'll stay with me for a long, long time. The life these two men carried throughout their entire lives is the life I always wished I had. The love of, first friendship, then, the pure love they felt toward each other in a time when it was considered a crime to befriend a person of color. Fantastic writing from an author who I've always respect and admire. Ms. Labbe has never let me down. There are not many times when I give a story a perfect score. This one deserves it.
2) The writing style and the characters pulled me in. I was connected to this book and its people in a way I rarely am but always hope for. Hal and Caleb came alive for me and I was emotionally invested in their well being. They had fascinating lives and interesting challenges facing them. I loved that some obstacles had to be overcome alone before they could deal with the other ones together.
3) A lovely, realistic, retrospective exploration of the relationship between two gay men. Caleb and Hal met as kids in the 1960s, and took a long time to figure out that they were each the answer to the other's searches. Now settled into old age, with foster kids and grandchildren and family around them, the men look back at the years and events that affected them, built them up, pushed them apart, and finally brought them together. We see the early days in Charleston, when the black kid in a newly-desegregated white school, and the white Northern kid who dared to name Sherman as a Civil War hero to a Southern teacher, are bonded as outsiders. We see the impacts of civil rights and gay rights and the Vietnam war on their lives and families. The men circle each other, best friends, yearning for something else but unable to quite make it happen. Caleb has a loving, but not gay-tolerant, family and Hal an abusive bigoted father. Events push them their separate ways, but they reconnect, again and again, until love wins. The most potentially dark and angsty moments are not the ones dwelled upon, and the result is a warm, smoothly-flowing story of life and love through half a century of time.
4) Friends to lovers - friendship being most important. Addressed both homophobia and racism in the 70s. Two lovely main characters well drawn and distinct from each other. Good sub characters. 70s & 80s US - contrast between small town & NY. Well written. Interesting structural approach to,d in reflection from contemporary perspective. Only problem smallish chunks of time reduced flow. Once or twice I felt I had missed bits of their story I wanted to hear about after they got together- how they got their children etc.
Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe
Gay Historical Romance
Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (September 18, 2015)
Amazon: Other Side of the Line
Amazon Kindle: Other Side of the Line
Caleb Hudson and Hal Zimmer became best friends the day they stood up against the schoolyard bully together. Life’s complicated enough with their friendship crossing racial lines in 1960s Charleston, South Carolina, but as time passes, they realize it’s more than their friendship that sets them apart from other kids. At first, Caleb denies his feelings for Hal could be more than companionship. He supports his friend when Hal admits he’s gay, but Caleb isn’t ready to face his own truth.
Hal becomes a staunch antiwar protester, and the divide between them widens after Caleb is drafted. But when Caleb returns from Vietnam, the time for denial is over. His homecoming sets off a series of events that force Caleb and Hal to confront their desires and what lines they’re willing to cross to get what they truly want out of life.
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