Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NOVEMBER: Something Like Summer by Jay Bell

Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change.
The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart.
Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.
For more information on the author, Jay Bell, check out: http://www.jaybellbooks.com/
Published by: CreateSpace
Year of Publication: 2011
Number of pages: 288


  1. OK, we are going to start talking about this book so if you haven’t finished it, stop reading this now.
    **SPOILERS AHEAD** (you have been warned)

I loved this book. I want to say that first and foremost because I didn’t care for one specific plot point and I don’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy this book. Jay Bell is a wonderful writer. He has set up a world which I believe is both believable and real. Having read many, many, many, gay books, especially ones that start in high school, it takes talent to correctly develop that experience and I think Jay Bell has mastered it.

    The character development between Ben and Tim was wonderful. It had all the makings of true high school love. Having grown up in a small town myself, finding other gay kids was a rarity so I can truly say that the angst involved in falling for someone who you don’t know is gay or not can be very debilitating. You long for them, you want them, they possess your thoughts. Following this story, their trials and tribulations, is a wonderful journey.

    This book is basically divided into 3 parts: high school, college, and adult life. the 1st section was absolutely wonderful. Again, the tone was perfect. But then, the rift. Ben and Tim were caught fooling around in a neighborhood park, Tim had a freak out (as people in the closet are prone to do when faced with the stark reality) and he declares that their relationship is now over. While this happens in many gay books, I think that Jay Bell really nailed the emotions that go along with a breakup of a secret gay romance. (again, personal experience here)...

  2. The flash forward to Ben living in Chicago was jarring to me at first but we don’t spend much time in there. The contrast in environments, however, does a great job of separating us from the high school story. After getting a call from his best girlfriend Allison informing them that her dad has died, he travels home. On the flight, he meets a flight attendant named Jace. Throughout the next few chapters their romance blossoms and I think to myself that the story of Tim is done, that we will be following Ben and Jace. Ben, wanting to be closer to Allison and Jace, transfers to a school in Austin. While at school in Austin, Ben runs back into Tim only to find out that he has come out, then alienated from his parents, and is living in a house that was left in him by an old gay man that he befriended. Tim, under the guise of friendship, is out to win Ben back. Without getting into too much detail, Ben and Tim still have chemistry, but then there is Jase to think about. In my opinion, it didn’t seem to me that Ben was ever over Tim and that Jace’s days were numbered when Tim came back into his life. They had the chemistry, they had history, and quite frankly I never really felt it with Jace.

    Now here is the point where, if I had my druthers, the book would’ve gone a different way. Ben discovers that Jace has been cheating on him while flying throughout the country for his job. At least that’s what we originally think. Ben has sex with Tim and that could’ve been the point where they got back together. In my opinion, that should have been how it was. Instead we find out that Tim manufactured the whole situation by hiring someone to say that he was having sex with Jace. There is a huge rift between Ben and Tim again and Ben ends up back with Jace.

    So now we have a problem, does the book end with Ben and Jace living happily ever after while Tim is left alone? No, the relationship at the beginning with Ben and Tim lends itself to happily ever after and as readers that is exactly what we want to happen. So, how do we get there? This is where I really wish the book would have gone a different direction. Jace gets sick and dies, Ben grieves for a time, and then gets back together with Tim in the end all within the last 5% of the book. To me, this ending did not flow with the beginning of the book, the tempered pace, the gradual build. So I was left feeling a little disappointed. Full disclosure, I was never Team Jace.
    Again, I would like to say how much I love this book. While I didn’t necessarily love the ending, the tone of the writing, the believability of the characters, the maturing of Ben, all made for a very enjoyable read.


  3. I liked this book. I have issues with the multiple “false endings”, but I can overlook those.

    I liked Ben a lot. I liked his confidence in himself. I liked how he made the best out of a situation. I felt a lot of myself in this character. Now, he makes some mistakes in the novel, but most of them I could understand.

    Tim though… damn, you know you are supposed to care for him, to root for him & Ben, but fuck all if the author doesn’t make him into a scheming despicable asswipe at times. I’ve never had such mixed feelings about a character before. I like him, but dislike him at the same time.

    As for Jace, well, he was far too good for his own good. Nearly, a moral opposite of Tim it seemed. Ben was very lucky in this case. As for his death, it seemed kinda tacked on. It felt a little too melodramatic for me.

    Overall. I enjoyed this novel. Well worth the read.

  4. I literally cried at the end of section 1, when Ben returned the key and caught Tim’s eye. I don’t know why that stuck with me, but it really hit me hard. I wasn’t so much against Jace, but found him to be a little too understanding and patient to be realistic. When he got sick, however, I really felt for him. The scene where he died, and asked Ben to stay with him was so tragic.

    I agree that the overall crafting of the characters was well done. They were very realistic and relatable. The storyline was well crafted. I really enjoyed reading this book, and am glad that I was able to find this book club.