Two long time friends discover that what they feel for the other is much more than friendship. This is the story of them finding their way.
- Review by Cindi
Justin Parker and Derrick Wilson have been best friends since middle school. Now juniors at Chandler High School their friendship has only grown closer as time has gone by. Each has a girlfriend. Justin's is Stacy and Janie is Derrick's. Life is going well for each boy.. on the outside. Things are not so great at each of their homes. While Derrick has an overbearing family who insists on him spending more family time with them, Justin is thrust in the middle of his parents' marital problems at every turn. Regardless of their home issues, they always have each other. The friendship is strong enough to endure pretty much anything. In the middle of a game of truth or dare with friends Justin and Derrick are dared to kiss each other. They must tongue kiss for a full minute in front of their girlfriends and closest friends. There is confusion for each boy as they both discover that the kiss was more than a dare between friends... it turned them both on and threw in a load of confusing feelings for each boy. This is where the story of Justin and Derrick begins.
This is told from the beginning as journal entries in a sense with each boy typing out their part of the story. Because of this, the points of view shift back and forth between Derrick and Justin throughout the entire book. Some may be confused over this but I found it to be a nice way of getting inside of each character's head.
This is not just the story of Derrick and Justin. There are quite a few secondary characters who are integral to the story.
I will start with Justin's parents. They fight constantly and do not hesitate to bring Justin into the middle of these heated arguments, at times trying to get him to choose sides. Because of their issues with each other, they don't acknowledge or pretend to care about Justin and what he does. As a result, he does things to try to get their attention even if the attention he receives is bad. All he wants is for his parents to acknowledge he is alive. Justin has an older brother, James, who is away at college so it is only Justin and his mother and father at home most of the time. James, when he is in town, is not a good influence on his younger brother in any way. Justin wants alcohol? No problem. Call James. I am obviously not a fan of James.
Then there are Derrick's parents and younger siblings. His siblings were okay for the most part especially his younger brother Devon. I adored this child. He was a typical pre-teen and you can't read about this kid and not like him. Derrick's parents on the other hand are different. I found no love for either. Sure they took care of Derrick and provided for him but their attitudes and expectations left a lot to be desired. The mother is the worst. She constantly complained if Derrick (a 17-year-old boy) wanted to have time with his friends and she was always pushing him to spend more and more time with his family. I get that... the family thing... this is very important.. but there is a difference between wanting to have family time and smothering and Derrick's mother fell into the latter. Having helped raise three sons of my own, my early views on the mother may simply be because our parenting styles clashed. Later, my opinion of her was cemented and there was no coming back for me as far as she was concerned.
Now to the other secondary characters.
There are the twins, Tyler and Tyson, who spend an unusual amount of time together even for twins. Throw in Ryan and Hayden who may or may not be more than friends. Then there is Stacy, Justin's girlfriend. I really liked her from the get-go. Janie, Derrick's girlfriend, on the other hand? Not so much but I won't give away why.
Now to the mains... Justin and Derrick.
I liked Justin a lot. I felt deep sympathy for what he was forced to deal with on a daily basis with his parents. He did not handle the stress well and as a result turned to other means for relaxation (and I'm not referring to just sex).
Derrick was a bit much but he grew on me. He does not always handle things in the way one would expect but it is typical of a teen his age so I was able to overlook it.
Derrick and Justin, now that they have discovered the true nature of their feelings, must find a way to make the relationship work without it harming either as far as their family lives are concerned. What about their friends? There are a couple who love to throw out the word "fag" at every turn so how will they react when the truth of Derrick and Justin's relationship comes out? What about classmates? Their girlfriends? Most importantly their parents? What happens if the relationship fails? Will they be able to stay friends?
The story of Derrick and Justin is told over a period of months. There is more that I wish I could point out but I won't type spoilers in this review. I had a few issues with this book but not necessarily with the story as a whole (with the exception of the third one). One, this book would benefit greatly by having it edited better. There are numerous errors throughout that stand out. Two, there are a couple of inconsistencies that others may not have noticed so I won't mention them specifically here. Three, there is one thing that was in this book that normally I would not be able to overlook as it is major a pet peeve of mine (to put it mildly). The characters are young so I chose to let it go in this case as I understand that it was almost necessary for Justin and Derrick to move forward.
Overall, this is an interesting friends-to-lovers story. It has the classic coming of age and teen issues so it is realistic for the ages of the characters. The sexual situations are not overdone and seemed to be age appropriate even if the wording in parts was more adult. There are a few unresolved issues that I am sure will be addressed in the next book of the series.
I love the cover. If I understand correctly, the cover artist is the author. If so, beautiful work Jayson, and very fitting for the story.
This book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.