elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Still, Life by Vivien Dean

Joe is flying from Los Angeles to Chicago to help a friend he hasn't seen in 20 years and talked to more or less the same time. Back in their native small town, Joe and Israel got along at first as best friends and then as lovers. But it was always their secret, the small towm was too small to allow them something different, and then Israel was born on the wrong side of the street, he was a love-child of mixed origins, probably with African American blood, but his mother never told. Anyway with the courage that always have kids, Joe and Israel dared their parents and friends and tightened a bond that seemed impossible to break... and instead it was too simple to. Joe went to College, Israel didn't have the means, and after a year Joe stopped to write and then... life happens. This is probably the part I don't like very much, for sure it's not a good image what we have of Joe, a man who practically dumped his lover without a real reason if not that he grew old of his feelings. Or maybe Joe is in denial, even if he is living out of the closet in L.A., he is actually doing so far from his hometown, and far from who really knows him; in this way, he is still in the closet, since he shut out an important part of his life; he conveniently forgot of Israel's existence till the day he read about him on the news.

Israel in the end left the small town for Chicago, to follow his son; he didn't marry, but he had a child with a girl who always tried to get him hooked, and when Joe left, she had her chance. But Israel knew that he wasn't in love with the mother of his son, even if he did all he could to help her and the kid. Teddy was a good kid and a very talented artist, but he lived in the wrong side of the city, as his father did when he was young. He ended killed on the street by a street gang, and the leader of the gang was killed some days later with Israel's weapon. For the police is all too obvious what happened, but Joe is not so sure: he can't believe that the man he knew is able of such a thing, even 20 years later.

The reader has to believe Joe, since for sure we have no enough details on Israel's life in those 20 years to have our own idea. The most interesting thing of all the book, and even the most endearing and tender, are the little introduction scenes at every chapter played by young Israel and Joe, that chapter after chapter help us to make our own idea on both Israel than Joe. They help us to decide that, yes, Israel is not a man that could kill a 16 years old boy, even if a murderer, and that yes, Joe is not the selfish man you can think at first. The long ago lost voices from the past are the only reason we have to justify Joe's behavior 20 years before, but also to understand why the same man, now, don't think twice to come in help of his past lover. That same voices, the one so fragile and fearing of young Joe, and the one so strong and sure of young Israel, are also the reason why Israel accepts Joe again in his life without questioning once... it's like Joe only went out of the door hours before, to come back as soon as Israel needs him.

And so I don't know if I like so much who is Joe now, but I vouch him thanks to his old voice, hoping that the voice is stronger than the adult man, and that will lead him toward the right direction.


Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: vivien dean, genre: contemporary, length: novella, review, theme: cops, theme: friends benefits, theme: multicultural

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