Author: Sarina Bowen
Book 3 in series The ivy years
Main characters: Michael Graham and John Rikker
This is another addition to this fantastic series, but all books can be read as standalones so you can start with the one that interested you the most :) although at this point I feel the need to warn you that this particular one is an M/M book :) so if reading about two guys is not your cup of tea, this is the perfect moment to turn around and read some of my other reviews... and there are many awesome ones I might add ;) if you are still curious and want to read about this amazing story, stay with me... :)
With every next book of hers I read, I'm more and more in awe how she can write about really serious issues, really hard topics, but always does it in a way that makes you think without being judgemental and on more than one occasion puts a smile on your face when you least expect it :) I love her style of writing... :) that's why I wasn't afraid before reading this book... it was more of a curiosity how will she write their story... and the short answer...? she wrote it beautifully.... although I have to admit that my heart broke in more than one place... but it's hard for me to read about intolerance... because for me it is absolutely incomprehensible why would you feel the need to chase down after a couple who was just kissing in the car and want to beat them down... does it really make a difference that it wasn't a guy and a girl but two guys? it shouldn't... but that's exactly what happened to our main characters...
Graham and Rikker met when they were teenagers... they started as friends... but then it turned into something more, and they discovered how a first love is supposed to feel... the infatuation, the passion... first kisses... it shouldn't be tainted by the need to hide from everybody... and yet, that was their situation... and they did it well, until that one faithful afternoon that changed their lives... they were both running, but unfortunately Rikker tripped and fell down and was beaten and Graham ran away... Rikker spent a week in the hospital and then was shipped off to his grandmother because... let's just say that his parents weren't thrilled when they learned the reason of the beating... no one knew that Graham was also there, and he never visited him in the hospital... the first time they see each other after that day is six years later when Rikker is transfered to Harkness University and enters the locker room as the new member of the hockey team... :)
The whole book takes place in the same year as the previous one, and it really last almost all year... but for good reasons... it takes a lot of time for the two of them to even talk to each other... things start to change only after they have to share a room on one of the away games... and after that, slowly, one thing leads to another... I don't want to say too much, because it's better to actually follow the story without spoilers, so all I'm gonna say is that it's truly painful to see how living a life full of lies can destroy you from the inside... and that is exactly what Graham does... he lies to everyone... mostly to himself... but fortunately he reaches a point where enough is enough... and the book has a very lovely ending, so don't worry :)
I always love how Sarina Bowen creates characters... and I don't mean only the main couple... she always has many secondary characters that enrich the story in many ways... in this one it was definitely Bella :) she's friends with Graham and very quickly befriends Rikker too...:) I loved her, her passion for life and total openness about the way she lives her life... I'm very happy that her book is next in line :) cause I'd love to read about her happy ending ;) but there is also Rikker's grandmother... I swear, I love that woman... :) she stole every scene she was in... :) not to mention that there are also parents of both our main characters and their reactions to the fact that their sons are gay... I'm not gonna say anything more... only that I might have teared up a little.... <sniff> but it was so heart-warming... but that's it, no more details... ;) we also get to see more of the teammates... especially Hartley, team captain, and later in the book, Bridger :) they both got their own books, but again, if you haven't read them, don't worry, you don't need that knowledge to enjoy this one... :) although I really recommend that you would read them, just because they are really good :)
As in previous books, in this one we also have two perspectives, and you probably already know that I'm a big fan of that :) I love to be able to see inside the heads of main characters... :) I have nothing but praises for Sarina Bowen... it's astonishing how she tackles this big, important and difficult issues in a way that allows us to really see it... all of the aspects, the good and the bad... and at the same time gives us books that are funny and entertaining and full of characters that I would love to befriend in real life... the more books I read, the bigger fan I'm becoming... :)
I have for you today some quotes from the book :) they are mostly funny ones, but believe me... there were also so many "aaawww..." moments in there as well... I just figured, it would be better if you would see them for yourself without spoilers from me... :) happy reading
Conversation between Rikker and Bella ;) Bella first
"'Now that you've been with us for two months, you've had time to decide who's the most attractive man on the team.'
'Nice try babe.'
'Seriously, Rikker. How can you be my gay BFF if we can't dish about guys?'
'No can do. I'm not getting my ass kicked just to fulfill your Hollywood fantasies.'
'I'm only half kidding,' she whispered. 'For the past two years I've made a close study of who has the nicest ass on the bus. It's difficult for a girl to keep that kind of thing to herself.'
'You don't keep it to yourself,' I pointed out. 'Not a day goes by when you don't tell each ass's owner just what you think of it.'
'Not true,' she countered. 'I'm very liberal with my praise. A good manager knows to motivate the troops.'"
A quick exchange between Rikker and Graham's mom :)
"'Johnny Rikker! Stop right there, young man.' I turned around to see Graham's mother trotting down the ramp to catch me.
'Hey, Mrs. G! It's good to see you.'
'You are enormous! Look at you!' She actually reached up to ruffle my hair. 'You sat at my kitchen table eating Oreos maybe fifty pounds ago!'
'Are you telling me I've gotten fat?' I teased.'"
One of the many reasons why I love Rikker's grandmother :)
"Downstairs I found Gran rolling out Christmas cookies at the kitchen table. 'When you're famous, you'll still remember the little people, won't you John?' She peered over her glasses at me.
'If there are cookies, I think I can fit you into my busy schedule.'"
And another one for Gran ;)
"I flipped the blazing hot cookie into my mouth. That was a mistake.
'Owrrh,' I yelped as my tongue got singed.
Gran watched this foolishness with one eyebrow cocked. 'Should I be worried how you're doing at this school for geniuses?'
And that made me laugh, which made me choke a little bit. I had to set down my coffee mug to get a grip on myself.
'It's a good thing you're handsome,' Gran said, turning back to her rolling pin. 'At least you have that going for you.'"
And the last one with her, I promise... ;)
"'Dear Lord, thank you for these blessings we are about to receive, and for the safe delivery of our guest, who is kind enough to visit an old friend and an old lady. And please bless clueless Edna, whose granddaughter landed in jail again last night, the poor misguided girl,'
I raised my eyes to catch Rikker's and he bit back a smile.
'... And God bless our family and our friends. Especially Gertie, and may you help her to learn before she dies that cheating at poker is wrong. Amen.'"