This is an excellent story of friendship, love and trying to figure out how this whole being an adult thing works. The story is told from Michael's point of view and he is having a difficult time. At the start of the book he's just coming out of a two year relationship and a night of drunkenness leads to a sexual encounter with his best friend Nunzio. The two men have been best friends since they were kids but this is the first time anything more has happened between them. The encounter throws Michael off balance and he's not sure what to do with what happened. In addition, Michael's alcoholic, abusive dad shows up wanting to move back in to the family home because he's dying. This brings up a lot of unresolved grief and anger for Michael. As the story proceeds we watch Michael as he starts to slowly fall apart. He has a ton of issues that he has never dealt with and he's been drinking and self-medicating with anti-anxiety drugs for some time. In the past he's been able to be functional but we watch as he starts losing a grip on everything. He loses control of his personal life as well as his professional life and in the past his relationship with Nunzio has always been his touchstone. Since he messes this up too it is kind of the proverbial "straw that breaks the camel's back".
Being in Michael's head is not an easy place to be. He's in a lot of emotional pain and he makes decisions that make you want to shake him. I think though that people who have been through similar situations with either themselves or their loved ones will understand what Michael is going through. Others may find him tough to like or have sympathy for but I personally loved his character. I also enjoyed the fact that the author made the primary storyteller a person who is sometimes hard to like. Because, let's be honest, we're all sometimes hard to like in real life but that's something we rarely see in romance stories.
A big draw of this story for me was Nunzio. He was a fabulously done character. We never get his point of view but yet his presence is possibly stronger than Michael's. You know from the first few scenes with him that he loves Michael unconditionally and he's going to be there for him no matter what.
This story is equal parts love story and self-journey. I thought this book was different...in a good way, it was gritty and raw in places and I was happy to read something that strayed from the traditional romances we usually see in this genre. This will probably end up in my top ten books of the year and I highly recommend it.
Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens, to teaching in one of the city’s most queer-friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.
Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.
When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.