Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
What a delightful story, well-written and refreshingly narrated by Mark Westfield. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if I’d like a young adult story, or if I’d like this narrator, since it’s my first for him, but what a knockout combo Jacob and Mark turned out to be!
Truman Cobbler has had to transfer high schools yet again in his senior year. The victim of bullying in every school he’s attended, he lives with his widowed mother who is more than willing to move to accommodate her son’s safety. Tru is short of stature with hair that has an unfortunate tendency to misbehave, ears that stick out, and teeth self-described as horse teeth. He’s also very smart and apparently exudes a gay vibe. Not that it’s untrue, as he is gay, but it seems he has some magnetic field that attracts jocks and trouble—usually together.
There is one jock, however, who is not like the others. Javier Castillo is popular and friendly and the star pitcher for the baseball team, and for some reason, he befriends Tru from the moment they meet. Tru certainly needs befriending. Other than Javi, his only friend is Claudia, the classmate who is head of the yearbook and the high school newsletter committees. Since Tru loves writing and photography, and Claudia does not follow the popular kids in bullying Tru, their friendship seems made in heaven.
When it becomes known that Javi has befriended Tru, many of the “in crowd” decide to befriend Tru as well, at least on the surface. But later in the year, when one of the jocks picks on Tru and Javi comes to defend him, Javi is given an ultimatum—Tru or the friendship of the jocks. By this time, Javi has realized his feelings for Tru are more than friendship, and the two decide to reveal their relationship to both sets of parents and then come out at school.
I love the way the author handled this situation—the strength and character of their parents was remarkable, and the boys’ reaction, though not happy, was honest obedience to the principles their parents set out. It was refreshing to see authority figures act with integrity—from parents to school administrators.
Javi and Tru face both expected and unexpected hurdles, and just as their friendship grew at first, their love for each other grows after they know each other better. Tru becomes much tougher and more confident as he faces life challenges and tragedy with determination and a strength of character quite amazing for a young man.
Oh, and did I mention sex? No? Well, once the boys are eighteen, they get their chance to explore and the combination of Jacob Flores’s writing and Mark Westfield’s narration makes for some smoking hot moments.
I recommend this one to all lovers of young adult/new adult MM romance. And the audio version is outstanding, so if you haven’t tried an audiobook, this one would be a great place to start.
Cover by Paul Richmond depicts a close-up of both young men lying side by side with a view of Javi snuggling Tru over his shoulder. Very sweet, just like the story.
8 hours and 40 minutes
Audible Audio, 9 pages
Published June 9th 2015 (first published September 15th 2014)