Review: Be My Valentine, Bobby Bryson by Geoffrey Knight

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Be My Valentine Bobby Bryson coverSeven-year-old Mikey is very proud of the handmade valentine he made in class.  But Mikey never guessed the furor that would be unleashed when he showed his card to his teacher.  Why?  Because Mikey addressed his valentine card to someone named Bobby Bryson and when asked, happily replied that yes, Bobby was a boy. This stunned the small town of Elk’s Ridge and before Mikey’s single mom knew what had happened, the town’s opinion becomes a tidal wave of disapproval.

And its not just the teachers and principal at Mikey’s school, but Mikey and his mother, Kate Madsen, must face the only family they have left when Mikey’s father died, Mikey’s grandparents, especially his critical and remote grandfather.  Mikey doesn’t understand why everyone is upset about his valentine. It is up to his mother and the subject of Mikey’s valentine to help open up th the hearts and minds around them.  Will Mikey survive this Valentine’s Day?  And who is Bobby Bryson?

If you look up the word heartwarming in the dictionary there is sure to be a link to this story.  Be My Valentine, Bobby Bryson is a short story that rose above my expectations to give me a tale that is grounded not only in heartbreaking  reality but in genuine emotions that I was stunned by my reaction to it.  I could so clearly picture Mikey and his innocent joy in the simple construction paper valentine he made in class.  If you have children, or nieces and nephews, maybe you have been the lucky recipient of one of those cards and you know the pride the child takes in making them.  Knight has captured all of that here, the essence of the joy of giving, the pride of his artwork, and above all the love for the object of his attentions.  The wide-eyed sweetness and love that shines through is so bright that what follows is all the more crushing for the hurt and pain it leaves in its wake.  And not just for Mikey but for his mother, Kate Madsen too.

Knight’s character, Kate Madsen, is a overburdened, stressed out young woman. She is still in mourning for her husband and overwhelmed in her efforts to be the sole parent and wage earner for their family. She is trying her best to keep herself and Mikey safe but is clearly never sure she is up to the task, no matter how much she loves her son.  It is a terrific layered portrait and she is immediately someone who has garnered our compassion and empathy.

I think all the characters here, the quick sketches of people and the solid creations, all will bring a sense of recollections from the readers.  We all have met people like them at some point in our lives.  They make a lasting impression with their prejudices and  snap judgements.  And the dialog between Mikey and his mother (and others) that their disapproval opens up is as important as any other message here.

The final scenes will bring more than a sniffle or two so have the hankies ready.  By My Valentine, Bobby Bryson is truly a lovely valentine to all readers.  Is it a romance?  Not really.  Not like you would think.  But it’s message is one of love in all its faces and isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  Normally I would love a cover like this.  Happy and colorful.  But in this case, it is highly misleading.  Surely a simple child’s valentine would have sufficed.

Book Details:

ebook, 51 pages
Published January 15th 2014 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031744
edition language English

The Sochi Olympics Have Arrived and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Google Gay Doodle for Olympics

So one of the most strained and contentious Olympics has begun, that of Putin’s Sochi Olympics.    Eyes are on NBC to see how they report on the many issues that abound at Sochi as well as on the athletic contests and the olympians that compete.

In the past, NBC has been almost too reverential towards the IOC and the hosts of the Olympics.  Think Beijing and civil rights.  Now comes their chance to report fairly on all the issues as well as with the athletes participating in the Olympics themselves.  As gay rights or the lack of at Sochi and in Russia are such a large issue, I would hope that when interviewing the athletes and their families, including partners, NBC will be inclusive, interviewing gay participants and their partners and families instead of just the straight athletes as they have done in the past.   I don’t want the athletes to get lost in all the controversy, they have worked too hard for that.  But some of those athletes are gay.  And their identity should be on equal status as everyone elses.  Putin and Russia don’t recognize that.  It is too late to talk about whether or not Russia should have been awarded the 2014 Olympics.  That’s done.  And the IOC continues to be as spineless as they always have been.  But I have hopes for this Olympics that go beyond sporting events into a larger global discussion.  As Google, Chevrolet and even more sponsors show their support for the LGBTQ community through commercials, Google doodles, and PAs, the discussion and support for equality grows.swan-lake-dancer

So today I am including some of the best blogs/segments reporting not on the contests themselves but extraneous issues that have come out of Sochi to date.  The links are below.  I did watch the opening last night.  Wow.  Builders and construction again.  Red baby buggies for an expanding population, hopefully for Putin. Lots of flying Red scythes and what seemed to be floating Stalinistic heads.  There were some lovely moments too. The singing policemen were wonderful. I liked the floating islands and volcano. That segment with Swan Lake as its accompaniment as ballet dancers swirled under amazing contructs that lifted and floated as they danced was my favorite.  So was the Olympic Gods portion with the heavens full of constellations that looked like the various athletes.  The lighting of the torch was memorable too.  And those wonderful athletes from all the countries marching in under their flags, with joy and exuberance, happy to be a part of such a great community.  Nothing Putin does can take that away from them.  What was your favorite moment from the Opening Ceremonies?

Now here are the books being reviewed this week.  Don’t forget to check in with me on Thursday and enter the Riptide/JL Merrow contest for It’s All Geek To Me. I also have a terrific story just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Don’t miss out on Geoffrey Knight’s Be My Valentine, Bobby Bryson and bring a tissue or two. I will be glued to the tv, with my Kindle, popcorn and of course, my terriers!

Monday, Feb. 10:     Reviewing Life by Lara Brukz

Tuesday, Feb. 11:      Of Last Resort by Megan Derr

Wed., Feb. 12:           It’s Only Make Believe by Havan Fellows

Thurs., Feb. 13:        J.L. Merrow’s It’s All Geek To Me Book Tour & Contest

Friday, Feb. 14:         It’s All Geek To Me by J.L. Merrow

Sat., Feb. 15:              Be My Valentine, Bobby Bryson by Geoffrey Knight