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Hearts On Fire Reviews

We read and review for the love and joy of books.

Erin E Keller – What You Are

What You Are - Erin E. Keller

Reviewer: Lucy

Genre: MM Contemporary

 

Review: Oh, what to say about Alex? He’s pretty sure he knows who he is, where he’s going and he’s pretty laid back about it all. His girlfriend is attentive, his roommates, Gabriel and Kevin, are a little crazy but definitely good friends and his likes his life. Status quo.

 

Until..

 

Daniel, the outgoing, happy, beautiful thing that he is shows up in Alex’s world as the new roommate. Consider that world rocked. Especially since Daniel is gay and out, sweet and seemingly impervious to the discourtesy and near homophobia that Alex throws his way sometimes. What’s a guy to do?

 

Well, if you are Alex you push the man away, pull him back, try to face your fears, push everything away, repeat. It takes Daniel patience and time to chip away at the layers of ice Alex has erected around himself and his heart. He’s just an awesome character, Daniel. All the characters here are well developed and “real”.

 

It did take me a while to warm up to Alex – he’s so chill in the beginning and then his treatment of Daniel is so offensive. He is like that about Matt, roommate Gabriel’s friend who is “too gay” but he’s worse with Daniel. “But not everyone lives in the great rainbow of gay love, you know?” No, but not everyone is quite so insulting either. And for his part, Daniel is a kind person but he isn’t a doormat. “You know, Alex, even if someone tells me you’re not as bad as you seem to be, I won’t stay here to be insulted at every chance.” Good for you, Daniel!

 

For his part, Daniel has had just one serious boyfriend, same one since high school, and they broke up as friends. The respectful way Daniel spoke of him said a lot about Daniel (if I didn’t admire him already!)


Even his willingness to cover for Alex, “If you want I can tell them you were too drunk and you fell asleep” just makes him seem loyal. I am definitely a Daniel fan, even if his treatment of Matt did change my view of him a bit, a mistake I hated.  But it made him less perfect, more real. And the whole situation made me love Matt even more!

 

Luckily, Alex will grow on you. He makes some mistakes. Okay, he makes a lot of mistakes and he takes one step forward and two back, and he hurts Daniel sometimes. But he is trying and he does make progress. He’s overcoming some big time hurt. “He knew this new Alex was the real Alex, the one many years ago was chubby and shy. The one his friend Ben had thrown away.”

 

Something I particularly loved about this story was how the ramifications of bullying reach so far into the person’s future. This wasn’t the worst bullying in history but it affected Alex in such a major way, basically stunting his view of himself and making him unable to accept himself. It’s so hard and it takes so much work. But, finally, Alex comes into his own and “it was as if the glass through which he’d been observing that life had been lifted.”