This book was not a light, entertaining, escapist read.
That being said, it was a beautiful, lyrical (even in, and possibly especially in its darkest moments), at times eviscerating, at times glorious work.
"Love hurts, love heals - that's the crystalline message at the core of Trebor Healey's complex, accomplishing coming-of-age story about a cautiously queer suburban kid whose heart is unexpectedly squeezed hard by a young junkie's quicksilver mind and beautiful lean body. Healey's refreshingly original tale hums with the potency of poetry."
That's what Richard Labonte, reviewer at Book Marks and Q Syndicate, had to say about this book and he said it better than I ever could have.
It was dark, it was gritty, it was cruel and it was filled with love and humour and moments of deep affection. It was difficult to read, especially having lost both my parents to cancer (the hero's brother's disease is a main part of the story), but it was familiar and real and touched me in spots I'd thought long-since healed.
I read this passage, where Neill, the protagonist muses about the taking care of his invalid brother, while I was in the cafeteria at work... "In the end, I think his wounds made it easier to love him as they taught me something I didn't know about love. My mother knew it; mothers do. Love was a much more physical thing thank I'd ever understood it to be. It lived where his fingers touched mine; it's what made the water bead up on his shoulders and roll off; it's what made his skin warm, glowing and soft. I'd always thought love was some feeling in the mind, but this was the physicality of love: the love of the body, so much simpler; so much more useful. It felt real, substantial, like proof--like what I needed. Cancer gave me that."... and I had to pause, wipe actual tears from my eyes and then read it over and over, marvelling at the obvious simplicity of something we tend so often to complicate.
So yes, this was a hard book to read, but so beautifully written and thought-provoking; and in the end ultimately very rewarding. The story of Neill; his lover, Vince and Neill's brother, Peter, is so much more than a love story, yet that's exactly what it is.