Review: The Race for Second by Chase Potter

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Race for Second Cover smallEthan is about to start off on an adventure he has always dreamsed about, he is going to be spending his sophomore year in college abroad in the university town of Freiburg, Germany.  Leaving behind his first boyfriend at the University of Minnesota and his mom, Ethan is ready to experience new things, meet new friends and even hopefully find new love.  All he has to do is submerse himelf in the German language, figure out the Strassenbahn network of trams, his mode of transportation other than walking. and uncover why one of his new roommates hates him so.  All while carrying a heavy course load and feeling a little isolated to boot.

Of all of Ethan’s roommates, it’s only Daniel who seems to take an instant dislike to Ethan.  True, Ethan is nineteen, much younger than any of the others.  But there seems to be something more behind it, some problem that not even Florian and Paula, his other floormates, can make sense of.  However, there is something so intriguing about Daniel that not even  Daniel’s cold demeanor can stop Ethan from falling in love with his chilly roommate.  When Ethan has an accident, Daniel’s behavior and attitude towards him changes drastically, enough for Ethan to hope that his crush might be returned.

Daniel has many secrets, including the ones that made him reject Ethan to begin with.  He is also very straight.  When all his secrets are revealed, will their friendship still be there in the aftermath or will something more be possible between them.

Coming of age stories are a common rite of passage for many writers.  It is a needful retelling of that first momentous journey from childhood into the footprints of an adult and maturity.  For some authors remembering that benchmark of their lives translates into a remarkable story that stirs up  our own memories of youth and time of transition. Those tales bring forth a wellspring of emotions that speak to the heart of who we are and how we become that person we are  today.  The Race for Second by Chase Potter is one such memorable story.

In addition to conjuring up memories of our own youth,The Race for Second shines the light onto one young man’s first voyage of discovery and growth.  From Ethan’s story we glean the lessons he learned and the price paid for that experience from this rite of passage tale. And those shared elements that we all go through at that stage serves to connect us all together.  In Ethan, Chase Potter gives us a 19 year old young man on the cusp of change, a change he not only welcomes but has created for himself by choosing to spend his sophomore year abroad in Germany.  Ethan is a marvelous character and his journey of one year in Germany will pull you in from the first moment you meet him on board a plane bound for Frankfurt and a year he will never forget.

Ethan is a product of a single parent home.  His father left the family when he was three and his mother has given her all to support them both in a loving but financially straightened environment.  Ethan was also lucky in other ways including a maternal love and acceptance that never changed when Ethan came out. Even in childhood Ethan’s dreams and ambitions have always extended past the trailor park where they live into a much larger, expansive future for himself.  Potter’s descriptions of Ethan’s childhood and mother are interspersed throughout Ethan’s story, giving the reader glimpses of his life in Minnesota and clues to his emotional makeup.

One element of Ethan’s story is the automobile, a specific type of one that is powerful, expensive and beautifully designed. With the ever present Autobahn and its fast flowing river of cars interrupting Ethan’s thoughts and trips out from the university, cars play an important role in Ethan’s life that started in childhood. Ethan uses cars as a metaphor for the vehicle which will carry him away from his mundane, restricted life in the trailer park towards some unknown powerful future.  Here is an excerpt to introduce you to Ethan and his point of view:

Cars were another reason that it would have been great to have a dad— one that stuck around until middle school at least. I love them. In high school, before making dinner so Mom could eat when she got home from work, I’d go out to the road and watch the cars. The speed limit was only forty-five, and I’d sit where I could see every vehicle that passed. It let me see the make and model names inscribed on the back. We didn’t have a computer then, so it was how I learned what was out there.

It was rare that anything cool came along. No one with money had any reason to go near Twin Meadows trailer park. Except one time, the last week of class before the end of tenth grade. It was almost time to go inside and start the spaghetti and meatballs I was planning. But there were still a few more minutes. Maybe a Corvette or Mustang would zoom past, and the wait would be worth it. Wind blasting last year’s dead grass as it rolled up to the road, I lay back, crossing my legs at the ankles and staring up into the clouds. I was kidding myself. That night was just like all the others in that damn place. I stood up to head inside, and then I heard it. A deep purr with a rich timbre, coming up fast.

My head snapped to the point in the road where it would emerge from behind the trees. In a rush of gray and chrome, the enormous sedan erupted around the corner. Its flat nose and massive grille spoke of earlier times, but the flowing lines proclaimed it to be modern. It was easily the largest car I’d ever seen, both in length and girth. The rumble of its engine struck a reserved note that belied its current speed far over the limit. Then it was gone. I didn’t have any idea what the heck it was at the time, other than a really expensive car. In retrospect, it was probably a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. All I knew is that it was beautiful, every part of it. Even the sound felt like the engine was singing to my soul. Okay, sometimes I’m full of shit, but it really was awesome.

 

And there’s Ethan, that wonderful, singular American voice that narrates  The Race for Second.  It’s through his curious, adventurous eyes that we explore the town of Frieburg and its history. Or head out to Marseilles and beyond.  As Ethan wanders and explores, so does the reader. Over the cobblestones and through the old parts of town, into shoppes and market places.  Potter’s descriptions bring us immediately into the location and settings as well as Ethan’s thoughts about it all.  And never does it come across as a travelogue instead of the personal journey of one young man. Through Ethan we get both an American viewpoint as well as that of someone on the brink of self discovery and adulthood.  Trust me you are going to fall in love with this character and his year in Germany.

Along with fine tuning his German and coping with a heavy curriculum, Ethan must adjust to the German lifestyle and the situation of being alone and uncertain.  The story abounds with German phrases and information about the language.  We learn as Ethan does.  It’s a useful concept that makes Ethan’s problems accessible and easy to relate to.  But at the center is Ethan’s perception of and relationship with his roommate Daniel.  Daniel is a bit of an enigma through most of the first half of the story.  His rationale for his dislike of Ethan, his change in outlook and finally his friendship occupy Ethan’s thoughts and emotions throughout the story.  There’s more than one mystery here, both of which are buried in the past.  And its into the past Ethan must first look for answers before he can grow and accept certain things for himself.

The Race for Second abounds with lively, multidimensional characters as does the locations and settings they find themselves in.  Potter brings Freiburg and the university alive for the reader.  We are immersed in the campus life and the ancient town that surrounds the university as Potter weaves its history and its people into the tapestry of life abroad he has created for Ethan and the reader.  It is a journey fraught with disappointments and emotional outbursts, filled with moments of incredible joy and personal discoveries.  The reader will be able to laugh along with those that Ethan has gathered together for his recreation of an American Thanksgiving in his dorm and cry along with Ethan with the exposure of the harsh and painful truths that life offers up to go along with the joys.

Is this a romance? Not really, but love does play into it in many forms. And although it might not work out the way you had thought it would or had hoped for,  it is still enough to make you happy and able to go forward with Ethan and his travels into adulthood.  Chase Potter had a wonderful story to tell and in The Race for Second he has absolutely achieved that goal.

I loved The Race for Second and Ethan.  It was a remarkable journey that Potter sends Ethan and the reader on and it was one I was sorry to see end.  But Chase Potter has said that he intends to continue Ethan’s story.  The story here is somewhat open ended so I welcome the information that a sequel will be in the works.  I can’t wait to see what happens to Ethan after Germany as he is a hard character to let go.

I have been luck to find two new authors through their coming of age stories.  Both tales of young men at the start of something remarkable in their lives and each so uniquely different in character and story.  For Chase Potter, The Race for Second is his first book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s beautifully told, full of textures,vivid descriptions and of course, characters that pour from the page and into your heart.   Grab it up today and start y0ur journey with Ethan as he discovers the wonders and pitfalls of life abroad in Germany and the personal growth that important life experiences bring.

Book Details:

The Race for Second by Chase Potter
Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Chase Potter Books
ISBN 0615982603 (ISBN13: 9780615982601)
edition languageEnglish
other editions (1)
The Race for Second Copyright © 2014 Chase Potter
Buy Link: Amazon

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight: Chase Potter, author of The Race for Second (Giveaway)

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A Scattered Thoughts Spotlight Interview with Chase Potter

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Author of The Race for Second

 

 

ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to welcome Chase Potter, author of The Race for Second, a marvelous story of one young man’s pivotal year in Germany.

Chase has brought with him a copy of The Race for Second to giveaway.  To enter to win, leave a comment below and an email address where you can be reached.  Contest ends 5/9. That’s it!  Now on to the interview.

I had quite a few questions I wanted to ask Chase after reading this wonderful story and it evolved into this interview with the author:

STRW:   1. What made you set the story in Germany?

CP:
I wrote what I knew. The setting and pacing (but not so much the plot) of The Race for Second drew from my own year abroad in Freiburg. Moving to a foreign country is an emotional rollercoaster, no matter how prepared you are. I wanted to capture both the feeling of isolation and the satisfaction of eventually assimilating into a new culture and learning a new language.

STRW:  2.  Some might say this is a “Gay for You” story, how do you see this “coming of age and coming out” novel?

CP:

I think that “Gay for You” is an interesting and enjoyable sub-genre, but generally these books are hard for me to identify with. I have a lot of straight guy friends, and I’ve even had crushes on a few of them over the years. But no matter how much you want something to be true, you can’t change someone in that way. I think that this is a common fantasy – wanting to “turn” your straight best friend – but life rarely works out this way.

Is it fun to read about the “closeted” star of the football team falling for the out skinny guy? Absolutely, because that skinny guy was me in high school. But is it realistic? Probably not so much. (The music video “All-American Boy” by openly gay artist Steve Grand is a great example of this)

I wanted to tell the story of what happens when our interest isn’t reciprocated the way we want, and I wanted to show how difficult it can be to get past our feelings, especially the ones we try to bury. It’s only when we pick ourselves up afterward that we see our own strength and resilience. This is the struggle and the triumph that I wanted to explore, and it’s how I ultimately see this novel – as a triumph of spirit.

STRW   3.  What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?

CP:

Editing, by far. I can create an outline and hammer out a first draft in a couple months, but the rounds of editing really get me. I know it’s worth it, though. The final product of The Race for Second might not be perfect, but it’s barely recognizable when compared to the first draft.

STRW  4.  Which character was the hardest to write/conceive?

CP:

Ethan was definitely the hardest for me to work with. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that since the story is told from his perspective, we are in his head during every single moment. As a result, we get to know Ethan better than any other character.

Another reason was that Ethan experiences a lot of personal growth, sometimes quickly and often unwillingly, and it was challenging to make sure he was always true to himself through these changes.

STRW:  5. Is any of the plot based on real events?

CP:

My close friends who have read The Race for Second will sometimes accuse me of this. Yes, I studied abroad in Freiburg, and yes, I leveraged my own experiences to be able to tell the story of a college student living abroad, but the vast majority of the story is purely fiction. There are a few exceptions – one being the incident where Ethan trips and smashes an entire case of beer on the stairs in his dorm. This actually happened to me, except there was no Daniel to help clean it up.

 STRW:  6. The ending is somewhat open-ended. Do you have plans to continue their story in the future?

CP:
In short, yes. I’ve spent enough time with Ethan and Daniel that the idea of letting them go makes me sad in a way. I’m really looking forward to telling the story of what happens to Ethan after his year abroad ends. Currently I’m just finishing the first draft of my second novel, which isn’t about Ethan and Daniel, but the third book will include characters from both The Race for Second and my current project.

 

You can connect with Chase Potter through any of the following ways:

The Race for Second Cover smallGiveaway:  To be entered to win this wonderful ebook, just leave a comment, your name and an email address where you can be contacted .  The contest ends 5/9, 12am EST.

Buy link on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K1295RG/
Book to be released May 1st, 2014.

Book Details:

The Race for Second is a gay coming of age novel about an intense friendship that develops between two college students – an American studying abroad and a young German man. Told from the first person perspective of the American student, this story relates the hardships of adapting to another culture while exploring the intersecting lines of a relationship that struggles to define itself as somewhere between friends, brothers, and lovers.

 

 

More Winner Announcements, DC’s Wanda Alston Foundation, and the Week Ahead

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The winners of Jim Provenzano’s giveaway for his Lambda Literary award winning stories are:

Every Time I Think Of YouMessage of Love coverWinner of  Every Time I Think of You is aegger.echo @yahoo .com
Winner of Message of Love is a.sphinxes@gmail.com

Congratulations to both winners.  My thanks to Jim Provenzano for stopping by with his wonderful guest post and for his donation of his books for the contest.  If you haven’t picked these stories up, please put them on your TBR pile, they are not to be missed!

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Trout LilybloodrootOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASpring Beauties

Here we are sliding into May, one of my favorite times of the year, neither too hot here in the DC Metro area or too cold (normally).  Time to get dirty, plant flowers, take walks by the water and just be outside enjoying nature and the Spring Ephemerals before they disappear like so many cherry blossoms.  Some of my favorites in this area include the Trout Lily and Spring Beauties, the Bloodroot and the round lobed Hepatica.  I especially love coming across a carpet of Spring Beauties, with colors that run the gamut from sparkling white to a lovely shade of lavender.  But you must catch them quick, or they are gone, making way for the flowers and pollinators of summer.  From left to right.  Trout lily with its liver mottled leaves, Bloodroot whose single leaf embraces its flower and whose roots weep red when cut, the round lobed Hepatica, and the Spring Beauties in white and pink.  What Spring flowers are your favorites?

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Now for the Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Guest Blogs and Book Tours, and Contests:

Monday, 4/28:         A Reason To Stay by RJ Scott
Tuesday, 4/29:         L.A Witt’s It’s Complicated Book Tour & Contest
Wed., 4/30:              It’s Complicated by L.A. Witt
Thursday, May 1:    Author Spotlight/Giveaway: Meet Chase Potter
Friday, May 2:          The Race For Second by Chase Potter
Sat., May 3:              Stealing The Wind by Shira Anthony

A week full of must read stories and I still need to find room for my April Book Review Summary and Best Covers.  Le sigh, again.

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One last thing this lovely Sunday.  The Wanda Alston Foundation, Washington, DC’s only LGBTQ shelter is in trouble.  It (like all the other shelters) needs funding and donations are desperately required for them to stay open.  Here’s the scoop from Gwendolyn Harter, who sits on the board of the foundation:

GH: Hey guys. as some of you may know I am on the board of The Wanda Alston Foundation who operates the only LGBT Youth Homeless Shelter in Washington DC. We are in need of some assistance to keep our doors open. We are starting a fundraising drive to make $25000 by October 2014 to keep our doors open. I know some of you have offered to get the word out and do other things. We can always use Costco gift cards, other small $25 gift cards for rewards for the kids, and other small thinss like that. IF you guys have any ideas please let me know I can give you our paypal donation page.

Also,We are having a fundraiser on May 12 from 6-8 at http://www.numberninedc.com/ on P St in DC. $25 suggested donation which gets you the 2 for 1 Happy Hour Specials. Directly following the fundraiser stick around for a live viewing of Ru Paul’s Drag Race party.

Short notice for those in the area I know but it’s a great cause and this sounds like a heck of a party!  Check out  NumberNine, gay bar extraordinaire, at their website above.  And if you can’t attend, there is a list of donations needed at The Wanda Altston Foundation’s website.  There is a link to it on ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords home page.  Any donations, no matter the size are needed.  Please help if you can!

That’s it, my peeps.  Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.

Melanie