“Detour” by Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore details an unusual road trip taken by two young men who meet at the beginning of the trip and strive to cope with the pain that has shaped them to this point. Visits to quirky tourist spots across the U.S. form a counterpoint to the relationship that slowly develops between the two, but their pasts may prevent them from finding a future together.
Don’t be deceived by the bright cover of this new adult gay story. This is an intense, heart-wrenching tale that deals with horrific subjects that are all too prevalent in today’s headlines. It took me some time to decide what I felt about the story because I read it while in the midst of mourning a personal loss, and found myself relating all too well to the black clouds surrounding these characters, so those who have triggers should definitely use caution.
Kudos to the authors for creating such realism and providing details of the impacts that violence and intolerance wreak upon our psyches. I was horrified to read of the techniques used in conversion “therapy” even as I mourned for the lost innocence of both of these young men. The reminder that grief can manifest in different ways and the difficulty of finding a way to be supportive without smothering is vividly portrayed, as is the insidious challenge of coping with abusive behavior and finding a way to heal from the emotional damage perpetrated. This is not a light, airy story, but it definitely is a memorable and thought-provoking one that deals with the aftermath of experiencing several levels of violence and bigotry.
There are some leavening elements that remind us that these are young men on the cusp of adulthood who may not make the best of decisions (including an attempt to sample umpteen varieties of pie, lol) but keep a tissue handy because there are definitely poignant and touching scenes that will tug at your heartstrings. I am disinclined to visit some of the spookier places that evidently lived up to their reputations but am reminded that there are some experiences that OTHER people seek that add to the mystique and mystery of ghosts and hauntings. The “happy for now” ending makes me hopeful that there will be a sequel to this story, but I will definitely be more prepared for additional angst and emotional upheavals if there are more tales featuring these guys.
Ethan Domani had planned the perfect graduation trip before tragedy put his life on hold. Smothered by survivor’s guilt and his close-knit family, he makes a break for the open road. He doesn't know what he's looking for, but he's got the whole summer to figure out who he misses more: his boyfriend, or the person he thought he was. It’s just him and his memories . . . until he almost runs over a hitchhiker.
Nick Hamilton made some mistakes after his younger brother died. His violent ex-boyfriend was the most dangerous, and the one that got him shipped off to Camp Cornerstone’s pray-the-gay-away boot camp. His eighteenth birthday brings escape, and a close call with an idiot in a station wagon. Stranger danger aside, Nick’s homeless, broke, and alone. A ride with Ethan is the best option he’s got.
The creepy corners of roadside America have nothing on the darkness haunting Ethan and Nick. Every interstate brings them closer to uncharted emotional territory. When Nick’s past shows up in their rearview mirror, the detour might take them off the map altogether.
Word count: 89,400; page count: 339