Review: Family Man by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton

Sometimes family chooses you.

At forty, Vincent “Vinnie” Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay—even to himself. It’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it’s getting harder to ignore what he really wants.

Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence—though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.

It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie’s family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey’s mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important—their families’ or their own.

This book managed to be a balance of heart-wrenching and cute and I loved it. 

For many readers there are themes that are going to be close to their heart, story-lines that are more personal and alcoholism is it for me. It's quite a common theme in books, drunk parents especially, it adds angst and conflict... and it can be done horrendously. No two alcoholics are the same, no two members of an alcoholics family are the same, experiences differ, but the violent drunk is so overdone - and for me not relatable to the experience I've had. It's easy for me to just read those stories, they are just characters, a plot device more often than not. Cullinan and Sexton though, they wrote an alcoholic who broke my heart because it was so believable. The emotional baggage and guilt of the all involved... it is so well defined here.
"And drinking. And by then she was so agoraphobic she couldn't go anywhere unless she was drunk or high. Not even to the grocery store or mall."
The thing is, she wasn't even an MC, though her part in the story was hugely important because of how it related Trey, because she rang so true to me though it made the whole story more real, more relatable. I understood Trey so well it made my heart ache. Maybe because I felt like I knew him inside out he was my favourite character, but I wouldn't have wanted anyone else for him than Vinnie. 

The story of these two - one struggling to make the best he could in a difficult life and one struggling to come to terms with his own needs and how it fits into the family life he's always known is so good. It is written with thought and feeling and... understanding. I became part of the book as I read. I find that the books that draw me in as a reader, that become a part of my experience and not just a book are those that stay with me. They're the ones that require re-reads and pop into a readers thoughts at random times. 

As I said, for me part of this book was personal, I truly felt the authors understood what they were writing, possibly for many readers Trey and his mum and the alcoholism are going to be just part of the plot, it's hard for me to judge. The story as a whole though will be a winner for anyone who reads it though. Love and family - the best and the worst. A really great read, and another 2017 favourites for me.
A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

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