Title: Mulligans (2nd Edition)
Author: Charlie David
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: Set against an idyllic summer backdrop, two men come out, threatening to tear a family apart at the seams.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Chase never had many friends, but at college, he meets and forms close ties with straight jock Tyler Davidson—a connection he fears he’ll lose if he tells Tyler he’s gay. Keeping his sexuality secret becomes harder for Chase as he joins Tyler and his family at their idyllic lake house for the summer. It grows more and more difficult for Chase to avoid Tyler’s attempts to set him up with girls, and he’s tired of making excuses. Chase is ready to embrace the man he is, but he’s afraid of what it will cost him.
The Davidsons seem like the perfect family, but Chase soon realizes there’s trouble in paradise. Tyler’s dad, Nathan, has done everything to make a good life for his wife and children—including suppressing his sexuality and denying his needs for years. But like Chase, Nathan is growing weary of living a lie. What begins as an offer of support from Chase grows into an unexpected attraction that will have profound effects on everyone. Chase and the Davidsons are about to learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect family, but that perfection isn’t a requirement for friendship and love.
Review: The Davidson family is proof that appearances can be deceiving. From the outside looking in, they seem the ideal family: affluent, attractive, close-knit and happy and perfect. In the case of the Davidson’s marriage, however, from the inside looking out it’s an alternate perspective—there’s an undercurrent of dysfunction wending its way beneath the veneer of perfection, an illusion simmering just below the surface and its revelation, in the end, is inevitable.
Charlie David’s aptly titled Mulligans is a story of second chances. While it’s a novel with new adult elements, a coming-out story for the novel’s protagonist, Chase, there’s a deeper and more compelling undertone to the plot in Nathan Davidson’s evolution. The loyal husband and devoted family man, the man who became a father when he was little more than a child himself, never had the opportunity to come to terms with his sexuality, not when building a career and providing for a wife and children had become the very framework of his existence. It’s this storyline that adds not only an extra layer of complexity to the novel, but it’s the overt and underlying complications of what could be the disollution of a family that evokes a deeper level of empathy for what will become of the characters David has created.
Chase’s and Nathan’s parallels soon intersect, and the innocence of their confiding in one another gives way to a passion that jeopardizes not only Chase’s friendship with his best friend and Nathan’s son, Tyler, but also threatens to tear the Davidson family apart. While I admit I was worried this plotline might come off in an uncomfortable way, given not only the age difference between Chase and Nathan but Chase and Tyler’s friendship as well, it instead is a touching and emotional process of fear and attraction, and joy tempered by guilt. The author handles this delicate subject in such a way that allowed me to empathize with Nathan and his family and the lie he’d been living, as well as with Chase for getting caught up in the headiness of his own coming out and desire to be a shoulder for Nathan to lean on. Nor does the author attempt to fabricate a tidy romantic ending, which I appreciated for its adhering to a more realistic outcome.
If a story can be both simple and complex at the same time, Mulligans is that. David’s effortless delivery of this complicated drama eases the reader along through every scene. The pace of the story is never bogged down by extraneous detail or dialogue, and the buildup to the climax doesn’t come at the expense of the characters’ integrity. In fact, I have to admit I was afraid Stacey Davidson, Nathan’s wife, was in danger of coming off as the clichéd ideal hausfrau whose uptight perfectionism would be too stereotypical to be palatable, or for her to be relatable to me. As it turns out, however, I ended up feeling an immense amount of respect for her. She was graceful under the pressure of her family coming apart at the seams, and I appreciated that she wasn’t portrayed as the shrew for the sake of added drama. The setting of the story, the halcyon days of summer at the lake, also offers a greater contrast to the shattering of the illusion–there is a loss of innocence tone to this novel that played perfectly against the family traditions, especially as Chase had no good memories of his own childhood to compare it with.
Mulligans isn’t a romance. It’s a young man’s coming out story—looking for and finding acceptance, hurting and being hurt in the process—set against the backdrop of an unraveling family’s drama. The shocking element of the storyline isn’t that Nathan is gay—there are more than enough clues to allow the reader to come to that conclusion. The shocking element of this story is the twenty years Nathan spent repressing that side of himself, which allows the reader to admire the integrity of his character all the more for his selfless devotion to his family. It’s a story that I can only imagine any man who has waited until later in life to come out will relate to, and has further established Charlie David as a talented and multi-faceted storyteller.
You can buy Mulligans here: