Author: Michael Murphy
Genre: MM / Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 24th, 2013)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥3.5 Hearts
Blurb: Phillip and José, newly minted Ivy League roommates, couldn’t be more different. Phillip is an only child from a wealthy New York City family. José is the oldest of nine children of Mexican migrant workers. He has only known rural life in the Southern US—though he was born in California, his family moved from state to state, following the crops across the country.
Phillip comes to school with every electronic gadget known to man. José arrives with the clothes on his back, a paperback he pulled from the trash in a bus station, and a notebook and pencil. They both need to adapt to their new environment and, in the process, quickly become fond of each other despite their differences.
As their fondness grows into love, their world is turned upside down when they are charged with caring for José’s eight younger siblings. To Phillip, sharing José is not easy. To José, caring for his siblings is his most important responsibility, even more so than his education. If his relationship with Phillip is to survive, they have to bridge the gap between two very different worlds.
Review: Michael Murphy brings us a very interesting and engaging story where we get to meet Jose and Phillip, and witness two young men that, though they are the same age; they couldn’t come from more different worlds.
Jose is the firstborn child out of nine of a Mexican family of migrant workers. That means that they had no home as they crisscrossed the country in a van in search of farms with work for a week or in the very rare occasion two. Also being very poor he has never had possessions so when he gets to college all he carries with him is a backpack. In it is a notebook, a romance novel and a t-shirt he found in a trashcan and the clothes on his back.
Ok, so I’ll be honest here and say I was not only astonished with this character, but I just can’t even begin to imagine that it could be real. I know logically, in my head I comprehend that there are people out there that are indeed that poor. Still the very detailed description of Jose’s life, his so simplistic needs, and his perspective were astonishing.
When other kids were having a hard time adjusting to the small rooms and non-existent space, Jose had more than he had his entire life. When other kids were trying to find a hole to stuff one more gadget or one more piece of cloth, Jose was utterly bare and oh my God the emotions that sized me when the cold hit hard and mercilessly and the poor guy had only a t-shirt. I’m overwhelmed by that aspect of this story.
Now, the exact opposite of Jose, Phillip is not only an only child, but his family is rich. Rich as in condo in Manhattan and a farm with a huge mansion in Vermont. Talk about a clash of worlds. Where Phillip whined about the heat, Jose was feeling right at home. Where Philip couldn’t sleep due to noise, Jose was dead to the world what with being raised in a family with nine kids. And the differences continue in a black & white pattern.
And it is like that, in the form of a smooth storytelling, that this read subtly draws you in it and before long you are so engrossed and so wrapped up in its web that you don’t even understand what happened. It doesn’t look like it when you start reading, you don’t even suspect it at the beginning, but you end up swimming deep in a very emotional read and a very sweet romance.
The intensity builds slowly as we get to see our pair become friends from simple roommates. Our heart gets to expand when Phillip reaches out to Jose and in an almost altruistic way gives him a hand for the very basic of needs a human being has, a pillow and a pair of sheets, a sweater to beat the cold and food, because people must eat don’t they? And then we get to feel all warm and cozy when that friendship changes to more and the two young men become the joy of one another. I get to feel the simplistic happiness of the first kiss and the emotional highs from the first “I love you”.
And just as it happens in real life we get to see things go south and everything turning to little pieces of shattering glass with all that entails. The frustration, the angst and the anger are not lost on us at all. We get to experience those along with our protagonists and if you’re partial to one of them, you might even come to hate the other at times.
Yes, I must say I got really invested in this story. I found it very well written. The know-it-all narrator made a pretty good job giving us the story without the all confusing effects of head-popping. It’s one of the rare occasions that I liked this style of writing and even enjoyed it. Reminded me of old classic books and took me back to my childhood when this was the writing style I encountered most back then. And as I said the story is quite engaging, very romantic and while it made me quite mad with Phillip at some point – I could really beat him if that character was real – that is a fact I appreciate even more. The end itself either was a bit abrupt, or I am a never-satisfying person always wanting more. Either is a possibility, but bottom end I would have loved a peek in the near future. As it is I’m left wondering.
So this is a book for the ever romantic, for those who want to believe that no matter how hard things are and no matter how different two people might be, there is always a possibility of a dream come true as long as you work hard enough for it.