Reviewed by JustJen
Title: Strong Medicine
Author: J.K. Hogan
Heroes: Cameron Fox/Jonah Radley
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 278 Pages
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Release Date: May 11, 2016
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?
The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work-release at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.
Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.
Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.
Review: What a wonderful story this was. Two guys each suffering for different reasons from the results of their upbringing find each other and click in ways that help each other heal.
First, we have Cameron, a young man who was a child TV star who then became the front man for a band made up of his siblings, all managed by their controlling father. Losing his mother (and the only one who knew he was gay), coupled with the pressures of his family obligations, sent him into a bit of depression. He turned to alcohol to ease his problems which led to a DUI and court-appointed work release at the facility where he meets Jonah. In the middle of this, his father kicked him out of the band to save the reputation of the family.
Jonah is a sweet guy who is suffering from a mental illness that he “manages” by admitting himself into the facility when he feels the episodes coming on. He has been able to maintain a somewhat functioning life by being a recluse author, limiting himself to personal interactions, etc. It is pretty clear from the get go that not addressing his childhood trauma is the root of his lack of recovery. Being voluntarily admitted seems to keep the doctors from pressing this issue though, and instead, they continue to try and diagnose him and push for medications, which he refuses.
Once Jonah meets Cameron (his crush from Cameron’s TV days), he realizes Cameron calms him and Jonah allows himself to have a real friendship for the first time. They definitely have a connection, but there is so much at play with Jonah’s issues. It was beautiful to watch the relationship grow with these guys. Cameron is able to be himself for the first time ever and is able to share more of himself with others. The same holds true for Jonah, who finally feels he might be able to share his darkest secrets and talk about what happened to him.
For some reason, I love these kinds of stories about people with mental issue and how they cope and/or overcome them. These guys are not able to rush into things for various reasons, and everything about how and when they were able to do so just felt right. Their problems were not magically gone once they were together either. It is easy to see that they will be taking baby steps for quite some time, but their love and commitment to each other will surely help them over the hurdles they are likely to encounter.
While there are some serious events that take or took place here, the details never get too overly gory. I was turning pages to get Jonah’s story out so he could really begin to heal, and was just as excited to see how Cameron made out with his problems. This ends on a good note, but I could have easily kept reading more. It was my first time reading this author, and if everything else is as well-written as this one, I’ll be a happy camper when I dive into some of her other works.
Overall Impression: I loved it
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*