No Such Thing
Coming back home after one’s been an unruly teen is difficult, but coming back completely changed and trying to convince others of that change is even worse. Or so thinks former foster child Alessandro Silva when he returns to Perch Creek, a small town outside Wilmington, DE. But a bad reputation is more difficult to shake than he expects.
When his foster father dies, Alessandro, nicknamed Alé, returns to Perch Creek to help his foster mother and begins working at Baker’s Dozen, a bakery/cafe. There he meets the owner’s brother, Jaime Winters, who two years previously underwent transplant surgery to replace his diseased heart.
Alé and Jaime would have gone to school together except for Jaime’s disease, so Jaime doesn’t know about Alé’s reputation as a troublemaker. Instead, what Jaime knows is that Alé’s also gay. And Jaime is attracted to the handsome Brazilian American.
As they hang out and become friends, Jaime talks Alé into inaugurating him into the mysteries of gay sex since Jaime at age twenty-two has never been well enough or known anyone to share his sexuality with. Alé agrees on the condition that this is friends only sex and not a relationship.
While the guys get closer, hate crimes begin occurring, first with the word “fag” spray painted on the Baker’s Dozen front window, and then with Jaime’s slashed bicycle tires. Alé thinks he knows the perpetrator: His high school nemesis Justin who doesn’t seem to have grown up and forgotten their feud.
Proving that Justin has done these things, however, is more difficult than Alé imagines. He fears not only for Jaime and his sister, but also his foster mother’s young wards, all of whom he wants to protect from repercussions from his past.
Both Alé and Jaime are characters that readers will love because both young men have overcome adversity in their pasts and are on the road to happiness in their adult lives. They both recognize the sham of their friends-with-benefits status and willingly acknowledge their loving relationship, and readers will rejoice with them for this.
Just as the primary characters are believable and enjoyable, so are the secondary characters, especially Jaime’s sister who works to avoid smothering him with her love as does Alé’s foster mother. Even the sullen ten-year-old boy and the quietly playful seven-year old foster children of Alé’s foster mom are delightful.
My only quibble with the book is that it occasionally relies on staple contrivances to set up tense situations, things like not calling the cops when they should be called or misplacing cell phones at critical times.
That quibble aside, Arthur is a writer to be watched. Her claim to write about “small towns, big love” is accurate and a boast readers should take to heart and enjoy.