Author: Jenna Jones
Publisher: Torquere Press
Pages/Word Count: 101 Pages
At a Glance: This is a well-written story of literal second chances. I just wish I had enjoyed reading it more.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: One year ago, Sebastian and Patrick got married so that Patrick would have full legal rights to be with Sebastian during his treatment for testicular cancer. A year later, Sebastian learns his cancer is in remission. Patrick wants to celebrate with a dream vacation, the honeymoon they were unable to take when they were first married. But Sebastian has been shaken to his foundations, and in his efforts to rebuild himself he reassess his life, his goals, and his relationship. Even in a tropical paradise, Sebastian wonders if Patrick still his bedrock, or if it time for Sebastian to move on. Previously self-published.
Review: There are few of us who haven’t been touched by cancer in some way—whether with a family member, a friend, a co-worker, we’ve all watched someone go through a diagnosis and treatment. Some survive to fight another day, and some don’t. It’s particularly devastating when the patient is young. In this case, Sebastian is still under thirty when he’s diagnosed with testicular cancer. He undergoes multiple surgeries and chemotherapies, and after a year he’s finally in remission. But he’s not sure what that means for him since he was so sure he wasn’t going to make it. He’s had a dying mindset rather than a living mindset, and now he has to reframe his future.
Sebastian’s reaction to the news and his subsequent actions with regard to his friends and his husband left me shaking my head. I was left with the impression that this is a vain and ungrateful person, and frankly, my experience with folks who have survived cancer is one-hundred-eighty-degrees from this, with gratitude being the number one expression once in remission. I couldn’t help but feel that these kinds of traits would have been exhibited before the cancer, and would lead me to believe that Patrick never would have been with Sebastian if this is who he truly is.
I struggled with this book because of Sebastian’s treatment of his friends and husband once he finds out that he’s going to live. I’ve lived in a family that experienced cancer at a young age, and then a subsequent devastating and drawn-out terminal illness, and maybe I was lucky because the patient was, in fact, thoughtful and caring and engaged and so careful about easing things for ones who were being left behind. I also was a bit put off by his extreme reaction to the physical changes wrought by the cancer. I’ve known, and know, a lot of cancer survivors and frankly, they are proud of those scars—it’s the scar they earned by beating that fucking cancer! Whether they were twenty-seven year olds who lost their hair and it came back another color/texture, or they had large chunks of skin removed, or what have you, it seems when you’re looking death in the face, vanity takes a backseat.
I’m a big fan of this writer. Her Apples & Gin series is a personal favorite, and I also really enjoyed her Barnaby Sloan series of shorts. While I appreciated that this story was very well written, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I wish I could have. This may very well be a case of my personal experience coloring my enjoyment of the story. As usual, your mileage may vary. 🙂
You can buy Shaken here: