I got this as a freebie from BOTM as it was one of the books that made it to the BOTY finalists – that, and it was the only book from the finalists list I didn’t read so that was an easy pick. I didn’t read the synopsis, I didn’t bother knowing what the book was about. I wasn’t expecting much, but damn did I enjoy this wild ride of a book.
“Each drop [of tears] felt like it was slicing his face open like a razorblade.”
Two dads – Ike and Buddy Lee – joined together by the death of their sons – Isiah and Derek. Brought together by a lifestyle neither of them approved of, their inability to accept that their sons were happily married to each other and queer.
Isiah and Derek were good boys, murdered in cold blood. Each suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the face; they had to have a closed casket funeral. Ike used to be involved with a gang and Buddy Lee has had his fair share of time behind bars – both ex-cons. And, they wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of getting redemption for their sons.
After much frustration, very graphic violence, and a few hospitalizations later, they were eventually able to find the justice their sons deserved.
“You know how you used to say love was love? I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it, I guess. But I understand now. And I’m so goddamn sorry it took all of this, but I really do get it now. A good father, a good man, loves the people that love his children. I wasn’t a good father. I’m not a good man. But I’m gonna try to be a good grandfather. I’m gonna try real hard.”
This is a story of Ike and Buddy Lee coming together to accept that love is love, no matter your sexual orientation. That love doesn’t have to be between a man and a woman, and to accept that as long as your children are happy, that’s all that should matter. It’s a story of homophobia and coming to terms with it all a little too late.
“This time they didn’t feel so much like razorblades. They felt like the long-awaited answer to a mournful prayer for rain. “
I really enjoyed this novel and read it almost like a screenplay. Despite the racial slurs, graphic violence and homophobia, I allowed myself to fully immerse into the timeline and setting of the story – and for that reason, it didn’t bother me as much. Due to the nature of sensitivities in either of these areas, this book may not be for you. But, if you’re able to put those feelings aside and enjoy a good, fictional story … then buckle up because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.