Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Don't Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble

Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.

But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.

J.H. Trumble’s debut, DON’T LET ME GO, is a witty, beautifully written novel that is both a s
weet story of love and long-distance relationships, and a timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools. (summary from Goodreads)

Don't Let Me Go is a truly fantastic book! Trumble's characters and situations are chock-a-block full of real emotion and will surely captivate readers!

Nate and Adam believe they have found that one true love in each other. In the 8 months they've been together, they've faced not only the thrills of falling in love for the first time, but coming out to their family, friends, and classmates. They've even survived a brutal homophobic attack and the consequent court trial. There's nothing that can come between them. When Adam has the opportunity to star in an Off-Broadway performance in New York and will be gone for months at a time, Nate encourages him to follow his dreams. While Adam has been Nate's best support since the attack, he can't allow himself to stand in the way of Adam's chance. After everything, surely they can survive a long distance relationship, right? But as the phone calls and Skype chats become fewer and farther apart, and Adam's new roommate becomes a more prominent fixture in his new life, Nate begins to doubt the strength of their relationship. Determined to be out and proud, Nate starts a blog and t-shirt wearing campaign as a stance against homophobia, and when it catches on, he's surprised by both the support and protest it garners. Despite the support of Adam's best friend, Julie, and his new friend, Danial, Nate still feels somewhat lost without Adam. When his blog brings to him the attention of a younger student, Luke, who is in the closet and looking for guidance, Nate is only too willing to help. He wants nothing more than to provide an easier coming out to Luke than what he had. As their relationship develops beyond friendship and support, Nate will have to decide what it is he really wants - and who. Is his relationship with Adam truly over? And if not, what does that mean for Luke?

I was expecting great things from Don't Let Me Go from the few reviews I'd read, and I must say that I was most certainly not disappointed. In fact, I loved this book even more than I'd originally expected! Don't Let Me Go is a much more complex and emotional book than I'd anticipated. Covering topics from sexuality, coming out, homophobia, abuse, first love, friendship, long-distance relationships, and being true to yourself, Trumble weaves a story so real her characters could be people you know, and situations so raw and honest you can't help but feel some sort of connection. More than once I found myself overwhelmed with feelings - anger at the homophobia; heartbreak over Nate's pain and vulnerability; admiration for the support and loyalty so many of Nate's loved ones exhibited. The whole story is a rollercoaster of emotion, and I don't doubt that many readers, like myself, will rise and fall as they go along for the ride.

Trumble's characters mostly carry the story for me. Told through Nate's point of view, and switching between the past and the present, piece by piece these characters come to life and stitch themselves to your heart. From Nate, who is so fierce and yet so vulnerable, to Adam who seems to be the strong one but is in fact just as in need. Their relationship has not been easy and it says a lot how much it already has survived, but I found my stomach in knots multiple times throughout the book as I wondered how they'd end up. Oh, miscommunication, how you break my heart and frustrate me all at once! It is hard at times to connect with Adam as much as Nate, as we are only getting to know him through Nate's eyes, but despite this I found that Trumble has allowed for some impartiality - so much so that I was seriously pissed towards the end of the book, wanting to smack Nate around for his actions! I'm glad I had the Kindle edition, otherwise this book may have found itself flying across the room!! I loved that the epilogue was set 10 years later, as after everything that happened it was just spot on perfect and what I needed to leave this story both satisfied and settled. Everything happens for a reason!

Danial was easily my favorite character throughout Don't Let Me Go. His humour provided the much needed lightness to an otherwise deep narrative, and his endless support of and to Nate lifted my spirits - he is my wish for the world, that more people can be as understanding and as accepting as he is. I must admit that his storyline threw me, as did Luke's. The thing is, from originally reading the summary, I began the book completely expecting Danial to be the new guy looking for more from Nate - so imagine my surprise that no, not only is Danial straight and simply a new friend, but Luke is actually that guy! I hope no one reading this considers that a spoiler - I wish I'd known, to be honest. I didn't connect with Luke the way I might have had I known otherwise. Sure, he's adorable and in such a terrible situation, but his naïveté sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. As did Nate's when it came to him. Despite this, I understand and appreciate Trumble's motivations behind their relationship. It's funny how much I was ready for Danial to be that guy instead, even though his being Nate's best friend was even more perfect and lovely. I did enjoy instead his developing attraction to Julie - which I like more for her than him, in that Julie's unrequited love for Nate tore my insides up it was so awkward. Every one of Trumble's characters are perfectly imperfect - or imperfectly perfect - and the story was all the more compelling for it, as they'll grab and keep a hold of you always.

On top of this, Trumble ensures readers think as they read. I couldn't help but contemplate Nate's actions - on the one hand I fully support his fight, from his shirts (some of which I want!), to his blog, to his being out and refusing to back down. But on the other hand, I wondered at the danger he put himself in, much like his mother. Despite everything, questioning whether it's worth it did cross my mind - and in the end, my answer is a resounding YES! Especially after learning the truth about the horrific event Nate endured and it's corresponding court case - I couldn't be more disgusted or angered. So much of Nate's story is a reality for a lot of gay teens, and Trumble has excelled at creating not only a wonderful and hopeful story, but a poignant social commentary.

J.H. Trumble's Don't Let Me Go is an all encompassing, emotional, inspiring, unforgettable read. It is, simply, a must read.


Publisher: Kensington Books
Published date: 27 December 2011
Pages: 353
Format: Kindle edition


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