I’ve been going through the gay fiction section of my local bookstore pretty fast lately, and some reads have been better than others, and then along came one that punched me in the stomach even as it proceeded to rip my heart out of my chest.

Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble is the love story of Adam and Nate, who meet in high school and who are inseparable from that point forward. When Adam gets a chance to go to New York to pursue a career on Broadway, it’s Nate that pushes him to go. That’s where the book begins.

But it’s not just the story of a long-distance relationship, because you see, the book jumps around a bit in time, flashing back to first touches, first times, coming out, and the horrific assault Adam and Nate suffer at the hands of their bigoted classmates. So all through this love story, you’ve got a darker thread of intolerance, homophobia, and hatred, and it’s different than when you see it on the news. More real, because you really start to care about these guys. Well, I did anyway. All of Nate’s feelings, I’ve felt, jealousy and paranoia and the need for some sort of revenge, at the same time as you’re feeling angry at the world for its bigotry and want to make some grand political statement and be a martyr for the gay cause.

It handles coming out in a lot of different ways. From the “you’re dead to me” intolerance and unacceptance of a family rejection to the innocence of a child who doesn’t know there’s even anything to come out from. When you’ve been out for a while, you forget, sometimes, what it was like to tremble in the closet. This takes you back.

It’s mostly a love story though, and it’s so real, in the songs they sing, or the gestures and symbols that mean everything in the world, but only to each other. I found myself thinking about the trinkets of past relationships I’ve accumulated over the years, a ring, a song, and how they can take me back to things part of me will never let go of.

It pulled tears out of me (I’m still teary), and laughter, and rage. I would throw the book down, literally vibrating from the emotions it drew out of me. I would walk away, but I would come right back, because at the end of it, “Don’t Let Me Go” was a book I just couldn’t let go.

Submitted By: Rob B. Follow him on Twitter @robbrowatzke

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