Author: A. M. Arthur
Length: Novel (200 pages)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (November 29th, 2013)
Blurb: For Ryan Sanders, the Paige Community Center is more than a place where he teaches at-risk teens about musical theater. He found a sense of belonging there during one of the hardest times of his life. With the center facing a financial crisis, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep the doors open—even soliciting fundraiser donations from Langley-Quartermaine Financial.
Adam Langley has a plan: survive an internship at his father’s company, finish college, get his trust fund, and find his former high school best friend Ryan and beg his forgiveness. In that order, because if Ryan does forgive him, Adam believes he’ll finally find the courage to come out to his wealthy, bigoted father.
Adam’s carefully considered plan is shattered when Ryan appears at the office a full ten months before Adam is ready, and Ryan is just as stunned. Against his better judgment, Adam gets involved with the fundraiser—and Ryan. Old feelings won’t be denied, and as Ryan and Adam reconnect, they realize neither knows the entire truth about the horrific night three years earlier, that tore their friendship apart.
Review: Okay so let’s get the most important thing out-of-the-way. EXCELLENT read. Buy the book, support the author, and as the young people say, #nuffsaid!
Now let’s get on to the business of a review. YA coming of age stories have been done to death and they come in a myriad of forms. The story line is fairly predictable in YA and so the depth and likability of a story comes from a reader’s empathy with the characters and feeling like you have a stake in the outcome of the young men. The reader gets that in spades with this story. I should let you know that you will need to have a device nearby to YouTube the various Broadway songs as they are talked about in the book. The title, of course, gives the reader a hint, since it’s one of Rent’s iconic songs. The book gives you a two-fer, a great read and some nice ear worms as well.
Adam and Ryan have been through the ringer. Their childhood friendship and budding romance are shattered first by violence and then by cruelty disguised as love, caring and well-being. These two young men must both learn to trust again, but the love they felt for each other was never lost. What they must do, however, is take control of their lives if they wish to chart their own destiny. This is a lesson that Adam, moreso, that Ryan must learn. Often readers are annoyed with the indecisiveness of their YA characters, but that is central and believable to their current level of maturation, making their fear and inability to commit to a course very believable. What the reader hopes to see is that the character can begin to grow and mature from whatever situation they are placed in. This is done perfectly in this story.
Aligning the book with a Broadway show gives the reader the same sense of anticipation of watching a show and waiting for the climax. The reader is taken along the metaphorical play performance while also watching the story of the two men unfold. The other characters of family, friends and co-workers provide meaningful input into the story and push the two characters along to their inevitable ending. The end of the story is fitting as it culminates in both the benefit performance and Adam coming into his own.
Bravo! *Cue curtain call for standing ovation*