Once in a Lifetime by Ariel Tachna is an interesting and uniquely written book that had both memorable characters and an entertaining storyline. As with most of Ms. Tachna's books, I easily became enchanted with the heroes as I watched their story unfold. What was unique about Once in a Lifetime is the format that it is written. It follows as the personal and private journal in the year in the life of, Shane Johnson, the main hero. He's been offered a job as a medical researcher overseas in France for a year. This is a huge opportunity for Shane. He not only gets to have hands on experience with a career that he's dreamed off, he's finally allowing himself to live out of the closet as a gay man.
Throughout the year there are many firsts for Shane. It's his first experience living abroad, his first experience really being able to do the type of job that he loves and his first experience actually dating and having a relationship with someone. Shane's sweetness and awe of trying all things new, truly makes him a wonderful character to get to know. Through his writings, we as readers, really get to know his strengths and weaknesses as he really takes this huge step in his life as an intelligent, adult gay male.
I really liked this book. Shane is really an interesting and loveable character that I really enjoyed reading about. He's quirky and funny and with every journal entry he wrote, it was very easy to visualize Shane's life as he lived it. Another thing that is very apparent throughout the novel is the author's love of France. Through `Shane's' descriptive words, France becomes almost a character within the novel itself. I really enjoyed the many interesting and the almost lyrical passages written about France in this book. I, as a reader, had moments that I could easily visualize the beauty of the country just as Shane experienced it.
Although, the journal entries were always full of life and usually interesting, this type of storytelling will no doubt turn some readers off. This is very unfortunate. I believe the way Ms. Tachna told this warm and wonderful story strictly through Shane's eyes and observations, made him read as a wonderfully flawed and realistic character. Through his words we are able to watch Shane grow from an excited, na‹ve, self-doubting young man to a warm, intelligent, confident man who has an amazing life and partner as the story ends. I highly recommend this book for those readers who appreciate the slow buildup between romantic heroes and who also enjoy watching their main hero grow and truly evolve into their own self-assured person as the story progresses.
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.