I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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This book takes a look at a rather heavy topic - what it's like to live with Bipolar Disorder/Depression, and how to live with someone who has Bipolar Disorder/Depression.
The author's wife wrote the foreword, and she wrote it from the perspective of someone who has this condition. It sort of sets the tone for this book.
We first meet Garrett Jones when he's in a tattoo shop getting a semi-colon tattoo. He's a solitary person, works as a technical analyst, and only ventures outside when he absolutely has to. His relationship with his family is strained, for reasons we find out further into the book. His reason for getting the tattoo is as a reminder of his past, of a failed relationship, and of the guilt he still carries with him every day. He has zero friends, but is friendly with one of his co-workers, a woman who is a good friend to him.
In this same tattoo shop, Dev Hemingway is a regular. His body is covered in multiple tattoos, all with a specific meaning to him. He's there to get a semi-colon tattoo himself. A social worker, and someone who has Bipolar Depression, he is getting the tattoo to mark the 8th anniversary of the day his life could have been over, the day he tried to commit suicide and thankfully failed.
Dev is immediately intrigued by the handsome man sitting in the tattooist chair.
From the get-go, the differences between the two men are very obvious - Dev is outspoken, fun-loving, spontaneous, whereas Garrett is a planner, keeps to himself, and appears to carry a burden much to heavy for his shoulders. Their personalities clash on occasion, but also complement each other.
I liked Dev quite a lot, and I thought the author did a great job fleshing out his character. Garrett too was likable, though I didn't click with him for almost the entirety of the book. He's just as fleshed out as Dev, but I had a difficult time connecting with him, mostly due to his behavior in the book. There was one scene midway or so, when I just wanted to slap the stupid out of him, and that wasn't the only time he ticked me off.
The relationship begins slowly, with the two men hanging out as fuckbuddies for a bit, before embarking on a more serious, but still casual relationship. It often felt as if Dev was all in, whereas Garrett was waiting for the other shoe to drop. When Dev tells Garrett about his diagnosis, I expected Garrett to put a stop to the relationship, but he almost nonchalantly absorbs those news.
The expected and inevitable break-up reason is almost out of left field - I was so angry with
Garrett and how that scene deteriorated, and the ridiculous (in my mind) reason he gave Dev. I had to applaud Dev though for his backbone, for not putting up with that crap.
Garrett needed to grow, and he does in this book. His journey is difficult, and it took work and help from professionals, for him to get to a point where he could see the past more clearly, and find not only forgiveness for what he perceived as his fault, but also realize that what happened with Pierre wasn't his fault at all. That he couldn't "fix" another person, no matter how much he loved him, and that the fixing is on the person with the issue, not their partner. The author did a fantastic job letting Garrett move at his own pace, and repair the relationship with his family through honesty and communication.
What cost the book a higher rating was the writing itself. While the story flows well, with few lulls in the progression, the writing oftentimes felt more tell than show, which left me with a somewhat clinical feeling. The dialogue was mostly fine, but in some cases felt forced and unnatural. The intimate scenes were excellent though, full of emotions that showed how connected these two men really were, even if Garrett couldn't put it into words very well.
Overall, this is a good book, and I enjoyed reading it. It takes a deep look at Bipolar Disorder/Depression, and takes the time to explain the differences between having Bipolar and having Bipolar Depression. The relationship progression felt realistic and natural, and I thought the two men were well suited to each other, with Dev pulling Garrett more and more out of his shell, and Garrett calming Dev down on occasion.
The author does tell a great story here, and this book is well worth your time.
** I received a free copy of this book from its author. Thank you, Jen! A positive rating was not promised in return. **