Reviewed by JustJen
Title: Take the Long Way Home
Author: J.A. Rock
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 225 Pages
Publisher: Loose Id
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Dresden Marich has failed out of high school three months shy of graduation. He’s infatuated with his online friend, Evan, alienated from his family and former classmates, and still trying to recover from his father’s death six years ago. He’s also keeping a troubling secret about his older brother, Gunner, who is away at boot camp.
Then Dresden meets Caleb, a judgmental environmentalist who’s hardly Dresden’s fantasy come true. But Caleb seems to understand Dresden’s desire for rough sex, big feelings, and, ultimately, safety. As Dresden becomes embroiled in a farmers market drama involving Caleb, a couple of bullying tomato enthusiasts, and a gang of vigilante vegans, he discovers he might be willing to trade a fantasy relationship with Evan for a shot at something real with Caleb.
But Dresden fears telling quick-to-judge Caleb his secret, and the news that Gunner is coming home sends him fleeing to California for a chance to meet Evan in person and hopefully fall in love. When the encounter doesn’t go as expected, Dresden faces a choice: stay in California and carve out a new life, or take the long road home to his family, Caleb, and a past he must face if he has any hope for a future.
Review: What a unique story this was. Unique in the way it is told, in the voices of the characters, the setting, etc. I completely felt as though Dresden was telling us this story, and he is a gem of a character. I absolutely fell in love with him, flaws and all, and adored his underlying quirky charm and humor – it is done in such a way that he isn’t trying to be that way, he just is. I don’t know how else to describe it.
Dresden has quite a few issues, all of which are related in some way to his family. His father dying, his mother trying to pick up the pieces, his brother’s violent nature and subsequent actions with Dres, all play a major role in his current actions. He has failed out of high school, months prior to graduation and has little to no direction for the future. His brother, Gunner, was shipped off to boot camp as a way to deal with his issues, but that leaves the rest behind still struggling. Dres chose to tell his mother about what happened with Gunner, and it changed her whole demeanor towards Dres. My heart was breaking for him so many times. He was such a confused soul and I wanted to wrap him up in giant hugs.
But then he meets Caleb, who is such a sweet guy. He’s dealing with a few issues of his own regarding his grandparents’ deaths, but really, they pale in comparison to what Dres is dealing with. What happens over the course of their growing friendship/relationship is wonderful. They each fill a void the other has been feeling for quite some time. Caleb calms the violent and self-destructive desires in Dres, and Dres brings Caleb out of his self-imposed shell. I loved these guys together as they explored each other. Caleb tried very hard to provide for and be what Dres needed, especially concerning sex. Nothing was too strange an idea for him to give a try, even if he was somewhat uncomfortable with the scenarios at the time. At the same time, while there is some sex, much of it is off page or not detailed, yet you have a perfect idea of what is happening or has happened.
Caleb and Dres go through some ups and downs as Dres works through his problems, but I was rooting for them the entire time. Some things Dres just had to try and fix on his own, and Caleb gave him the time to do it, always being there for him no matter what. Dres is not ok overnight. He’s not even ok at the end, but he is definitely on a better path. I do wish there had been a bit more resolution where Gunner was concerned, since that played such a big part in Dres’ mental stability.
This was a heartbreaking tale, but there is sweetness and humor as well, and I devoured every word. The picture that is painted of these guys is so clear that I could just about hear them talking in my head. Every disappointment, every discovery, I was wanting to lift Dres up and tell him it would be ok. I could not read this fast enough, but I was certainly not ready to let them go. I highly recommend this engaging story.
Overall Impression: It was amazing
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*