“Forgiveness requires a sense that bad behaviour is a sign of suffering rather than malice.” ― Alain de Botton
BLURB: Braving the start of high school, longtime childhood friends Benjamin Wells and Timmy Norton quickly realize they are entering a whole new world colored by their family responsibilities. Ben is trying to please his strict father; Timmy is taking care of his younger sisters. While their easy camaraderie is still comfortable, Ben notices Timmy growing distant and evasive, but Ben has his own problems. It’s easier to let concerns about Timmy’s home life slide, especially when Timmy changes directions and starts to get a little too close. Ben doesn’t know how to handle the new feelings Timmy’s desire for love inspires, and his continuing denial wounds Timmy deeply.
But what Timmy perceives as Ben’s greatest betrayal is yet to come, and the fallout threatens to break them apart forever. Over the next four years, the push and pull between them and the outside world twists and tears at Ben and Timmy, and they are haunted by fear and regret. However, sometimes what seems broken is just a little bent, and if they can find forgiveness within themselves, Ben and Timmy may be able to move forward together.
REVIEW: I am a big fan of coming-of-age stories, so I couldn’t wait to read this one. Ben and Timmy have been best friends for what seems like forever. Ben has been raised by his father alone since he was very young. His father is very strict and keeps him on a very short leash. Timmy is a different story, though. His mother is a hot mess, who very rarely leaves her room; his step-father is demanding and abusive, and he has three younger sisters who depend on him for every basic need. Even though they are two very different boys, they find a middle ground and their friendship thrives.
The book takes us through their high school years. It shows us how Ben thrives in sports, socially, and academically. On the other hand, Timmy has to work hard for any of his grades. He can’t play sports because he has to take care of his sisters, and most of the kids don’t want anything to do with him since he is from the “other side of the tracks”.
Over time, Ben and Timmy realize that maybe they could be more than just best friends. It becomes obvious that Timmy loves Ben, but Ben isn’t ready to face that truth himself, let alone to share that with anyone else. The two boys spend almost all their time together and eventually move their relationship to the physical side. Unfortunately, Timmy is much more sure of his feelings than Ben is. Ben ends up hurting Timmy badly and before they can fix everything, Timmy’s abuse gets worse and Ben makes a decision that tears the boys apart.
Sadly, after Timmy is out of his life, Ben realizes that he loves Timmy. He realizes that he has ALWAYS loved Timmy but was just scared of admitting his own truth and dealing with the consequences. Now he wishes he had been brave enough to be honest while Timmy was still in his life. After months of radio silence, Ben has finally decided to start living again. That included catching up with some old friends and owning his sexuality. His only regret is that he can’t share everything with Timmy.
Finally, Ben heads to college and while signing up to play fall baseball, he gets a chance to reconnect with his past, if he can only move past his hurt feelings and his sense of loss.
I completely loved watching these boys grow up together. The strength Timmy displayed while surviving his home life was offset by the vulnerability he only showed to Ben. At the same time, Ben was so used to people leaving him he felt he couldn’t be honest about his sexuality for fear he would lose his father. When Timmy and Ben are reunited, will they be able to move forward or will they both have to live with what could have been?
If you enjoy young love and coming of age stories this book is sure to strike your fancy. I highly recommend this book, and I would absolutely love to read more about Ben and Timmy if Mia Kerick ever felt the need to revisit them.