Title: Permanent Jet Lag
Author: A.N. Casey
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 222 Pages
At a Glance: This one should definitely come with an Extreme Feels warning. But, don’t let that scare you off! Grab this one, guys.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Nineteen-year-old Lucas Burke prefers being alone. He likes the silence, and he loves not having to care about anyone else’s problems: the less he’s forced to feel, the better. But after a year of college-induced isolation from everyone he used to know, the wedding of a former classmate sends Lucas back home, and that means reconciling with a group of friends that now might as well be strangers.
His sister hardly knows him, his “genius” best friend is nothing more than an addict, and his ex-boyfriend is still in a coma. All the while, wedding preparations send Lucas head first into a relationship with the groom’s best man—a recently cancer-free ex-Olympian who can’t stop talking.
Lucas knows that if he wants to survive the summer, he’ll have to learn to be a friend again, but it doesn’t come easy, and it might already be too late.
Review: It took me a bit of time to get into A.N. Casey’s Permanent Jet Lag. The somber vibe made me feel like I was watching an Ang Lee film; I didn’t immediately love it. But, as is also the case with some Ang Lee films, the payoff of sticking with it was well worth it. This poignant debut novel was absolutely worth every difficult moment…every moment that maybe struck too close to home and brought up painful memories, or made me uncomfortable. That’s not to say that it was nothing more than a series of difficult moments I had to ’get through.’ Not at all. There were some lighter moments as well, and some beautifully romantic moments—mostly courtesy of my favorite character, Chris, whose character, oddly, was also responsible for many of the most feels-crushing moments in the book.
The story is centered on Lucas, a nineteen-year-old college student who, at least in his mind, escaped the soul-sucking nothingness of Sacramento to head off to college in San Francisco, where he has spent the past year. Back in town for the summer wedding of one of his childhood best friends, Lucas initially feels completely validated. Looking around at the state of things back home, it seems clear that leaving the way he did, dropping out of everyone’s lives, was definitely the best decision. However, as the summer goes on, he learns things about himself, and about his friends and family, that open his eyes quite a bit. Much of this personal metamorphosis is directly related to meeting Chris.
Chris—the groom’s best man mentioned in the blurb—is such a beautiful soul. I loved him and the impact he had on every character in the story. He forever changed Todney for the better, and enriched his and Rylie’s lives. He taught Lucas so much about the things that are truly important in life, and about love. And, his philosophy really couldn’t have been any simpler…
“I believe in human decency. I believe that when you make a promise to someone, you keep it. I believe that when you say ‘I love you,’ you should mean it. I believe that all of this….this is all excess, and life is crappy and strange and too much most of the time. And it’s hard. Hell, I know it’s hard. But it’s also really damn simple. You just live it, and you try not to treat people like crap while you do.”
That was Chris. And, though Lucas fought it tooth and nail, he ultimately realized it was impossible not to love him.
There are so many things going on in this story. Casey tackles friendships, family, love and loss, addiction, and illness; and he does an admirable job with each subject. I did feel that because of being pulled in so many directions, I wasn’t as able to connect with Lucas and Chris as a couple as much as I would have liked. I did get a sense of them falling in love, but, it was mostly in hindsight, to be honest. I felt more of their connection as I thought about the book later. Which is a nice testament to the power of Casey’s storytelling, I suppose.
Lucas’s growth over the course of the summer is exactly what coming-of-age stories are all about. His initial instinct has always been to run. In fact, even at the end, that urge tugs at him. But, as he gets ready to head back to school, and Rylie is assuming this means ‘radio silence’ from Lucas once again, his weariness hits him.
For a small moment, a moment where the lump in my throat that Chris had left seemed too big to swallow and Nathan’s silence was deafening, I thought about agreeing. God knows it would have been easier. But there were bruises on my soles from running so long, and this was the finish line.
And, this epiphany was so powerful:
I’d run cities away to make sure no one was ever counting on me; I had never wanted to be anyone’s anything, never wanted to be depended on, but it was impossible, and I knew that now. We’re dependent creatures, humankind, and I was no different…. I had needed Rylie to remind me how to fight for what you wanted; I had needed Clay to lean on; I had needed Chris to remind me of all the things I’d forced myself to forget. And maybe the me in the mirror didn’t look like the me I knew, but I finally felt like him: better than what I remembered.
The writing in Permanent Jet Lag is fantastic, and Casey kept me on my toes. There were times when I wasn’t sure which direction he was going to take things, though I was sure it was going to hurt no matter what. And, it did. There were a couple of scenes that had me reaching for the Kleenex; this one should definitely come with an Extreme Feels warning. But, don’t let that scare you off! Grab this one, guys. As I said, it’s well worth it; I will absolutely be on the lookout for more from this author.
You can buy Permanent Jet Lag here: