Title: Take the Long Way Home
Author: J.A. Rock
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 225 Pages
At a Glance: J.A. Rock serves up an edgy and twisted story that is a journey so important I think each of us will find a small piece of ourselves in Dresden.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Dresden Marich has failed out of high school three months shy of graduation. He’s infatuated with his online friend, Evan, alienated from his family and former classmates, and still trying to recover from his father’s death six years ago. He’s also keeping a troubling secret about his older brother, Gunner, who is away at boot camp.
Then Dresden meets Caleb, a judgmental environmentalist who’s hardly Dresden’s fantasy come true. But Caleb seems to understand Dresden’s desire for rough sex, big feelings, and, ultimately, safety. As Dresden becomes embroiled in a farmers market drama involving Caleb, a couple of bullying tomato enthusiasts, and a gang of vigilante vegans, he discovers he might be willing to trade a fantasy relationship with Evan for a shot at something real with Caleb.
But Dresden fears telling quick-to-judge Caleb his secret, and the news that Gunner is coming home sends him fleeing to California for a chance to meet Evan in person and hopefully fall in love. When the encounter doesn’t go as expected, Dresden faces a choice: stay in California and carve out a new life, or take the long road home to his family, Caleb, and a past he must face if he has any hope for a future.
Review: Dresden Marich spends each waking moment second-guessing everything he does, feels and says. Due to both the trauma of losing his father, and his brother committing abuse that went well beyond normal brotherly rivalry, Dresden is locked in a downward spiral that finds him failing school three months before graduation. Not only must he contend with a mother who holds herself aloof at the best of times, he must also grapple with spiking and flagrant emotions that bring up such harsh anger and self-hatred inside him that they leave him breathless. Every day he logs online to not only have online sex with Evan, who lives in California and is shadowy at best, but he hooks up with older men and performs degrading acts just to see how far he can push himself. He is, in a word, wounded and out of control.
Then he meets Caleb. Caleb who reclaims old wood and carves it into something new and fresh. A young man who himself is equally trapped in a house full of memories that hold him captive. These two young men come together and something happens…Dresden gradually realizes he wants more from life, he wants more for himself. He can beat the anger and sadness if only Caleb can put up with him long enough for him to become a better person…a person who can accept and, in turn, give love. And Caleb realizes it is time to let go of the past and its regrets and live in the moment where love awaits him.
I would like to assure you that this brief synopsis along with the author’s own blurb gives you enough of this incredible story to make sense of all that goes on in Dresden’s world. But, I am afraid I can make no such claim. Each page of this story is a moment of decision, a second of truth, and Dresden must adjust to each thing that happens or lose himself irrevocably. The damage done by his mother in refusing to acknowledge what happened between Dresden and his brother, Gunner, serves to be the rotten core from which springs most of Dresden’s own self-loathing and anger. But Caleb, sweet, lost Caleb, will be the one to finally break through to Dresden and make him see what potential lies within him and help him to discover he is worthy of love and happiness.
J.A. Rock serves up an edgy and twisted story that is a journey so important I think each of us will find a small piece of ourselves in Dresden. He embodies those moments where we cannot seem to find our own goodness, our own worth. In equal moments of sadness and joy, Take The Long Way Home leads us on a trip that systematically sheds all our safety nets and leaves us bare, ready to be remade, to discover our own value and that we can love despite how we feel.
You can buy Take the Long Way Home here: