We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Sports
Will Smith wants to be an artist and enrolls in a special Masters class in Laguna Beach, as far away he can get from his father and anyone who knows him as Will Ashford, the star quarterback of the SCU football team. He wants to win the Milton Scholarship for art so that he can go to school next year doing what he wants, not what his father wants for him. In the art class he allows himself to enjoy both of his dream fantasies—the first is to have the freedom to paint and the second is to be with the gorgeous young man he meets on his first day of class. Noah Zajack also plans to be an artist, but he’s had a lifelong struggle to get as far as he has. Orphaned at an early age, Noah’s face is severely scarred from a time in his life when he was homeless and was attacked in a park. He holds three jobs and lives in a tiny one-room apartment but he’s full of life and so beautiful Will can hardly bear to look away when he catches Noah’s attention.
Will has been in the closet throughout high school and college and although he only has one year left to complete his degree, his ability to keep up the charade is weakening. He can’t tolerate his girlfriend, head cheerleader Tiffany, and he’s struggling to keep up with the lies to his father who wants him to go into the NFL or pursue a business career. Everything starts to fall apart when he begins to pay more attention to Noah than to anything else in his life. And when he breaks up with Tiffany, a new streak of bad luck seems to follow him wherever he goes. He’s nearly caught and outted several times, but he manages to squiggle out of the accusations with the help of his father and by using his friend Jamal’s sister as his beard.
The story is long and convoluted but really is quite simple—Will is deep in the closet and doesn’t have the guts to come out, so he spins a web of self-inflicted angst around him to the point where it’s hard to listen to his self-flagellation one more time. Listening to the audiobook was actually painful at times because it was so lengthy, the plot was so repetitive, and the narrator’s voice was so flat that I would likely have DNF’d it if I hadn’t received this copy for review. I think I may have rated it a bit higher if I read it as an e-book but to be honest, I’m not sure if it would have helped. I’m starting to lose patience with stories about whiny rich kids who worry about what their strong-willed father will think and aren’t willing to work for what they want. Add to that a narrator who doesn’t make the story exciting and it’s difficult to recommend this audiobook to anyone.
What saved it for me was the personality of Will’s best friend Jamal, his sister Ev, and Noah himself. I enjoyed those characters and the voice the narrator gave to them. It was during those scenes that John-Paul Barrel infused life into the audiobook. In fact, I almost felt like there were two narrators. A bit more energy and animation in the narrated sections would have made this audiobook more interesting.