Half-Life - Aaron Krach

Ladymol's Review

Along with Boy Meets Boy, I would say this was a great coming of age story for any gay teen. The story has a totally authentic teen voice and is positive without glossing over the genuine concerns and problems of teens, gay or not.

Adam lives with his father who suffers from depression. The illness has pervaded Adamís life, and although on the outside heís tough and funny, underneath heís more vulnerable than even he realises. Handsome, gay, about to graduate and face the world on his own terms, Adamís life take a sudden unexpected turn when his father commits suicide.

The cop who investigates the death, Jeff, is every man's dream: tall, blond, gorgeous, kind, sweet, intelligent. Adam sees all this in one glimpse one night outside a 7-ll and is hooked. When Jeff turns out to be the investigating officer in his fatherís case, things seem too good to be true.

The romance between Jeff, 38, and Adam, 18, is handled exquisitely sensitively. I know American views on such things are very different to ours here in the UK, but I canít see how this would offend even the most puritanical of American readers. Itís too true to life to offend.

I liked this book enough to wish that there was a more adult version of it, if that were possible. I loved Jeff and Adam and wanted a lot more interaction between them, and less of the teens hanging around and ďshooting the breezeĒ (God, have I just shown my age with that hackneyed phrase?). Having said that, what sex/kissing there is in this book is some of the hottest Iíve ever read. Thereís just not enough for me!

This book would make a wonderful gift for any gay teen or young adult. Itís life affirming. It tells you that you can overcome anything if you have a little faith and hang in there. And, believe me, thatís actually quite rare for a gay novel!

I really hope thereís a sequel to this one as the book ends at the beginning of something very special. Jeff and Adam are great characters with a huge amount of story potential still in them. I suspect there might be one on the way because the other characters in the book (particularly Dart, Adamís gay friend) have their own rich stories just unfolding too.

Very nice read with some great human insight. Oh, and totally hot kisses!

Cerisaye's Review

Angelito is an ordinary LA town where once there was a small miracle, when a housewife saw Jesusí face in a tortilla.† Maybe in June 1999 another is about to happenÖ

If we have faith it doesnít matter if there really are no miracles, so long as we retain belief in the possibility.† This delightful debut novel mixes everyday reality with the fantastical, playing with the notion weíre all stardust and golden- as someone who came of age in the 70s that speaks to me.† I liked its message of carpe diem, because you never know whatís coming.† Weíre just insignificant specks in the cosmos, a blink and weíre gone.† Life is fragile, too precious to waste on regrets.

The story covers just two weeks in the life of Adam Westman, but itís a momentous time. †Adam & best friend Dart are about to sit final exams and graduate high school, boys soon to become men.† Uncertain of the future theyíre scared to be leaving the familiar fixed routine to embark on lifeís great adventure, filled with possibility.† But two things happen to shake Adamís world.†

Adam meets Jeff Manfield, 38, a hunky blond cop, ridiculously hot, unbelievably handsome.† Heís a surfer, and heís gay.† Right from the moment they set eyes upon each other thereís a gravitational pull between Adam & Jeff, despite their age difference.† Itís the right time for both of them.

Jeff may be pushing forty but he suffers from arrested development. Work is his life.† His 20s were marked by AIDS, though paranoia kept him free of the virus.† Now, scared by the complications of emotional entanglements heís catching up on lost time, and cruises gay bars for casual sex to avoid commitment.† Jeffís only friend seems to be Susan, his partner, who canít accept her ideal man is gay.† Itís nice to see a mix of gay/straight characters in a novel, a more accurate reflection of real life I like to think.

When Adamís father, Greg, commits suicide, Jeff & Susan are the officers called to investigate.† Adamís parents divorced when he was 8 because his ambitious mother couldnít live with Gregís chronic depression.† Adam and younger sister Sandra stayed with Greg, which meant Adam took on the responsibility of keeping the family going.† Itís serious stuff, and Krach shows just how awful it is to live with someone who just canít cope with life, who has given up on ever finding happiness and love again.

Thereís an authenticity in Adamís experience that avoids sensationalism- or worse, exploitation of mental illness.† Krach handles this delicate subject with admirable skill. He doesnít shirk very real implications, yet the story has a positive outcome that isnít contrived or fanciful.

Adam isnít a regular- or stereotypical- 18 year-old (Iíve got one myself who doesnít conform either).† Bright and articulate, heís going to Stanford to study English lit.† Due to the difficult circumstances of his family life heís very mature, whereas Jeff retains a youthful innocence which makes the intergenerational relationship work.† Krach takes it slow, building from that initial spark of attraction.† Jeff & Adam are awkward and hesitant together, very realistic.† Jeff understandably is reluctant to get involved with an inexperienced kid, but he just canít resist.†

Itís very tricky to pull off an autumn-spring romance.† Iím not usually too keen on the idea, preferring my romantic pairings to be equals, all-man.† However, Krach made this one work for me, with no suggestion of exploitation.† Through Jeff, Adam lets go his anger.† Even more praiseworthy is that Jeff so convinces as a sweet, wonderful guy with inner strength like steel bands you know exactly what Adam sees in himÖheck, Iím head-over-heels myself!

Thereís no homophobia, no gay angst.† Adam & Dart are middle-class white kids, attractive and able to pass for straight, living in liberal South California.† The only aspect of the story that jarred a little I canít talk about without spoiling the plot.† However, in the end I could accept it probably didnít matter, convinced by the characters.

We canít control our lives however much we try, things always get messy, but if we donít take chances then we wonít enjoy the good things either.† Nothing is certain, so we just have to take what comes and enjoy the moment.† Who know whether Adam & Jeffís relationship will last once Adam goes to college.†† For as long as it lasts theyíre happy, and thatís all anyone can hope for.††

This really is a feel-good novel, like itís been sprinkled with the dust of the stars weíre all made from.† I hope Krach has another in the works, for heís a talented writer.† Not to be missed.

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