Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York – at Nate’s insistence – that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
J.H. Trumble’s debut, Don’t Let Me Go, is a witty, beautifully written novel that is both a sweet story of love and long-distance relationships, and a timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools.
I came across this book when it was recommended to me on Goodreads based on books I had already read. The synopsis intrigued me and I downloaded a sample to my ereader. And boy, am I glad that I did.
Don’t Let Me Go is a story of love and hate. Love, because the two main protagonists are in an all consuming relationship; and hate because of the repercussions the two main protagonists have to face as a result of their sexuality.
Nate and Adam are madly in love with each other. After skirting around the subject that they may have feelings for the other (and with the added complication of Adam’s best friend, Juliet, trying everything in her power to make Nate her boyfriend), they finally come out to each other and, subsequently, to their friends and family. And their coming out is not without its consequences.
Nate falls victim to a horrific and violent attack and is trying to get his life back on track with Adam’s help. Yet when Adam graduates and is offered a part in an off Broadway production (which Nate convinces him to take), it means that Nate has to face his demons on his own. And herein starts the fallout.
Combine Nate’s anger at the abusive attitude of his peers, with the fact that Adam’s roommate is blatantly trying to make a play for him and Nate starts to spiral out of control. What follows is a roller-coaster of emotions as we live through Nate’s pain and anger, his love and jealousy, his loneliness and his feelings of abandonment.
As Nate starts to realise he is losing Adam, he forms a friendship with Danial who ultimately becomes his savior; and Luke who (I felt) Nate recognises as being a younger version of himself.
Told part in flashback and part in present time, the brutality of Nate’s attack is handled sensitively. Whilst it is not told in detail, there is no denying that the events that are hinted at are horrifying and something that no one should have to experience. And, I felt, it was Nate trying to seek closure of some kind on this incident that formed the basis of his relationship with Luke, the younger, more impressionable guy who ‘fan boys’ Nate and (unwittingly or not) causes the fallout at the end of the book.
Throughout this story my allegiances with the four main characters changed with every chapter. I went from loving both Adam and Nate and hating Danial, to loving Nate and Danial and hating Adam, to loving Danial and Adam and being immensely frustrated with Nate; to loving all three of them. As for Luke? I’ll leave let you decide how you feel about him.
The relationship between Nate and Adam is told with tenderness and warmth and there was not one single chapter that didn’t pull at my heartstrings particularly towards the end when the relationship between them breaks down completely. The meeting between Nate and Adam at Juliet’s New Year’s Eve party in particular, had me reaching for my tissues.
J.H Trumble manages to use the perfect words and phrases and just the right descriptions to leave you with the warm and fuzzies and with heartache at exactly the same time – and it is for that reason, that I found myself thinking about this story long after I finished it (so much so that I couldn’t do anything else except read it again immediately!). I cried, I laughed, I swooned and I cried some more.
The content of Don’t Let Me Go isn’t for everyone, but if you are willing to think out of this box, then I would ask you to give this a chance. Because above all, this is a story about relationships – falling in love and learning to be loved; being selfish and being selfless; depending on others and others depending on you; passion and fury; give and take; trust and distrust; promises to break and promises to keep.
And as far as promises go, I can assure you this – once you’ve allowed these characters into your life, you’ll never want to let them go.
Come back next week to read an interview with J.H.Trumble and a character This or That with Nate and Adam.
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For more information about Don’t Let Me Go and J.H. Trumble visit her website here