Title: Once In A Lifetime
Author: Ariel Tachna
Genre: Contemporary, Journal
Length: Novel (200pgs)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (8th July 2011)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts
Blurb: Offered a yearlong medical research fellowship in France, Shane Johnson has many hopes for the experience: a chance to improve his French, an opportunity to hone his research skills before starting his PhD at Baylor, and the freedom to live life as an openly gay man for the first time. He’ll chronicle his year abroad with its challenges, victories, and setbacks as he struggles to balance his faith with his sexuality.
As he navigates the shoals of a first kiss, a first relationship, and perhaps even lasting love, Shane will have to balance his newfound emotions with his long-term plans, and he’ll face the decision of how his once-in-a-lifetime experience will fit into the life he wants to lead.
Review: I have to admit that when I first opened this book and started reading I groaned and thought, oh god. You see, I don’t like journal type stories and have only ever liked one before. That’s because most authors just can’t pull it off. Something usually gets lost and there is a spark that is missing. This, however, is a well written journal and I have to say that Ariel Tachna has scored where so many others have failed because I forgot that this was written by an author (a female author at that). I was so caught up with Shane’s doubts, fears, hopes and dreams that I really believed that I was reading a male twenty-two year olds journal, fantastically written, just fantastic.
In this journal style book we begin with twenty-two year Shane Johnson writing in his journal at the airport as he waits for his plane. We experience the next year through his words and his experiences while in France as he explores his sexuality, his belief and his friendships. We experience his hopes, fears, love and confusion as he tries to work out exactly what he wants. I loved the fact that he took his faith seriously and managed to meld it with his sexuality without feeling the guilt that many feel when confronted by their beliefs and sexuality. That he believed in himself enough to know when he was ready for something and that he wouldn’t let himself be pressured. Luckily, he had managed to get a good support system in place for when he needed advice.
Now it wasn’t all brilliant. at first, as I didn’t read the blurb I had no clue at first who I was reading about and even when I did find out it was just a brief passage on page 28 about how he was teased about his name so it took me a while to reconcile the nameless young man I had been reading about to Shane, but from then on… it was all good. Shane did seem to dither quite a bit about if someone was flirting or not but from what I read I think it was to do with his upbringing and lack of experience.
I would recommend this for people who would like to experience what it’s like for a gay young man who is exploring his sexuality while sticking to his beliefs as a Christian and his hopes for a relationship.