Thursday, March 31, 2016

Honesty by Seth King

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A radiant story of first love and self-acceptance for fans of John Green, Jandy Nelson, and Rainbow Rowell

“Maybe we weren’t meant to collide. Maybe we were meant to explode.”

As a closeted teenager in the Deep South with a holy-roller father and the scars to prove it, bookworm Cole Furman has resigned himself to experiencing life and love only within the pages of his favorite novels. But after Nick Flores seems to walk off a page and starts to rewrite his story, Cole finds his dreams spinning into a dazzling – and complicated – reality.

If you have ever found yourself on the wild breathless thriller ride that is young love, Honesty will rip you back again in screaming color.

Seth King is a remarkable writer. He has a gift for describing things, especially feelings, making them jump off the pages and come to life.  Honesty is the fourth novel of his that I’ve read. I dare say it’s his most profound work and it’s by far my favourite!

How does Honesty shine? It’s brutally truthful about what it’s like for a gay teen who has accepted his sexuality but who has to suffer the ignorance of others. It’s achingly blunt about what it’s like to fall in love with someone who hasn’t come to terms with who they are. It’s eye-opening about how expectations can crush someone’s spirit. It makes the reader reconsider every preconceived notion they had about what it means to be gay in a world that isn’t always so welcoming. I consider myself an open-minded person and I was wowed by Cole’s thoughts! Some things he said are just common sense but in King’s descriptive prose, they’re simply enlightening because he’s offering us a broader perspective.

Falling in love for the first time is exciting and scary. In Honesty, those feelings are amplified because neither Cole nor Nick is exactly certain about how to pursue their relationship while also keeping it a secret for Nick’s sake. It’s heartbreaking how badly Nick wants to let go and love Cole but he’s afraid about the repercussions when his family finds out. Cole on the other hand, just wants to love and be loved unconditionally but willingly plays by Nick’s rules in order to keep him in his life. Living in a town where they have to suppress their feelings and monitor their movements leads to a kind of ferocity and intensity that plays out when they’re alone. I was hanging by every word on every page.

On the eve of its release, King published an article about how Honesty was drawn from his real life experience. It’s a story that he has waited to tell at the right time. I’ll admit that that has influenced my perception of this book. I think as an author you’re vulnerable. When drawing from personal history it has to be a frightening undertaking not knowing how that story will be received. I bring this up because King does not hold back as he wraps you up in Cole and Nick’s journey through the highs and many lows of their love affair.

Five stars is inadequate to describe how brilliant and important Honesty is. It's a treasure that joins the ranks of two other books that I hold close to my heart. It will undoubtedly be in my Top 10 of 2016. And considering that there's so much in the news lately regarding the LBGT community, everyone should read this masterpiece and open their eyes and hearts.

~ Bel

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