Tim hoped moving to Texas would mean a new beginning but soon finds himself falling into the same tired patterns. Until he meets recklessly brave Benjamin Bentley, who introduces Tim to a world of love, sex, and warmth. Certain that society won’t understand what he and Ben have together, Tim struggles to protect their relationship, even if it means twisting the truth. Buried beneath his own deceptions, Tim must claw his way to the surface in the hopes of learning to fly.
Narrator: Kevin R. Free
Listening Length: 13 hours and 39 minutes
***Warning: this book review may contain spoilers of Something Like Summer, book 1 in the series. If you've already read Summer, then you're good to carry on reading. If you've not... what the heck are you doing reading this review when you could be diving into the Something Like universe? I warn you, take tissues!***
I'm going with the assumption that if you're reading this review you've already been introduced into the Something Like world created by Jay Bell. The content of this story won't be a huge surprise to you as it reflects many (though not all) of the events written about in Something Like Summer, though this time from the perspective of Tim Wyman.
Tim; the protagonist we love to hate.
Let's put it out there straight away; he's a selfish arsehole. An utter prick.
Or is he?
Well, yes, at times he is - but I kind of suspect at times, on reflection, we all are/can be/have been. That's the benefit of growing up and hindsight and all that guff.
I liked having the story from Tim's perspective, it helped me see beyond the selfish and understand why; and that can be a great life lesson. In fact, I think Jay Bell manages to fill his books with life lesson's; though whether this is intentional or not, I'm unsure. There is nothing preachy or patronising about his writing though, it just speaks of experience and whether it is that of the character or the author is not important.
Tim effectively has it all, well to an outsider looking in. His parents have money and are not shy of giving him some, materially his world is a-OK, he is good looking and knows how to fit in with the in-crowd. His parents are not physically abusive, though he certainly does suffer neglect at times. Emotionally he is abused, perhaps not intentionally, but he doesn't fit into his parents' plans, and that is even before any mention of him being gay. His mother loves him, but he is an inconvenience to the life her and his father want.
This little information, from his POV, changed me from seeing him as being merely stuck up and selfish to someone who is hiding a whole world of pain. Does this mean that I agreed with all his choices? No, of course not - but it helped me understand them better. Fear is a very strong emotion, it can make people selfish, it can aid bad decisions... sometimes in very necessary circumstances.
Did Tim do this? YES. A million times yes - but he learns from his choices, he doesn't let his fear
rule him forever. I thought the first part of this was when he met Eric. I loved Eric deeply. I loved that the love between them was friendship based, it wasn't sexual, but it was true. I think Eric was the first person to give to Tim in the way Tim needed. He gave him time and friendship and the courtesy of recognising him as a person.
Sure, Ben did those things, but it was different, too intense, they were too young their relationship was all-consuming and fairly self-destructive, unable to survive in the environment in which they were trying to nurture it. Eric was older, more understanding and mature - he had the wisdom to let the friendship be what it needed to be. As much as Tim loved/loves Ben, Eric is the person I feel who perhaps did Tim the most good in his life. Of course, when Eric dies it leaves Tim with a whole world of hurt and only a little more maturity to deal with it.
Life is messy. It just is and the Something Like stories show this to perfection. They show the humanity of characters that it is impossible not to love. Tim is far from my favourite of Jay Bell's characters, but I loved this story from his POV because it helped me understand him a little more, and by understanding him a little more I understood Ben more. I understood their world and the other characters more.
It's like... bear with me here. Have you ever watched an artist paint? I used to watch Bob Ross at times, and he'd start and it would just look a mess, then suddenly the picture he was creating would become clear and I would think, wow, amazing. I could see the scene he had created, the snowy cabin on a mountain side. Amazing. Beautiful. Then though, then he would carry on adding paint and the picture wouldn't change per se, but it would become clearer. It would become more beautiful, more intense - and that is what Jay Bell does with this series. You think you've seen the whole picture, because you've seen the whole timeline - but one book alone does not give the true, beautiful picture that the artist wants to create.
If you hadn't guessed it, I'm a fan of this series and I really recommend everyone to give it a go.
For more information see Goodreads.