Kevin Derocher was thirty-two when he walked into Tom’s office, newly married, a baby on the way, and the collar of his red flannel shirt pulled up to hide the bruises around his throat from when he hanged himself in his garage. After his initial consult, therapist Tom Langois believes he’ll never see Kevin again—but Kevin turns up three years later to make repairs on Tom’s new house.
Kevin and Tom become fast friends, and Tom begins to suspect Kevin may be interested in more than friendship. However, Kevin remains haunted by something from his childhood—something so terrible he blocked it from his mind. These suppressed memories make it impossible for Kevin to get close to anyone without panicking and lashing out, sometimes violently. But as his past begins to surface, it becomes apparent that Kevin may hold the key to a twenty-five-year-old mystery: what happened to Billy?
This is a very different read. There isn’t the sex that is in many books. There is a good reason behind it and adds I believe to the story line. Kevin is a very emotionally damaged young man. He doesn’t seem to want to change or to some degree even think he should. I believe the author’s intent with that was to should how difficult and emotionally damaging his trauma was. He is a confusing mess of contradictions for Tom. Tom met Kevin first one time as a therapist and then again after 3 years when Kevin comes to fix Tom’s hot tub. Tom is very intrigue but Kevin. He finds himself developing a friendship with Kevin and then a crush. Tom doesn’t believe that Kevin is gay. When Kevin finally admits his attraction to Tom the two begin to delve into Kevin’s issues and uncover more than expected.
I think the author did an amazing job with this story. He approached the subject matter from an informed point of view. You can tell he has done some research into the subject. He shows the reader one of the possible outcomes of childhood trauma. I will admit to some surprise that Kevin’s issues weren’t discovered and treated when he was intuitionalized as a child. I don’t know if that would bother a reader or not but it did catch me a bit, not that I don’t think that it couldn’t happen. The story line leads the reader in a logical and emotional way through Kevin’s psychological discoveries and the start of his recovery. You twist and turn through their discoveries and relationship. You are left to wonder about Kevin and what else they will discover as you go through the story.
I think where I did have some issues with the story was the relationship between the main characters. I didn’t feel that love that the two men had. It had a friendship feel to it. I do think by the end that they were heading toward a romance. I think until then that Kevin’s issues so dominated the relationship it just didn’t feel romantic. The characters were well developed though. The author draws the reader easily into the story by way of the characters. Kevin’s character, even without being the “voice” of the story, is compelling. He changes and grows during the story. Other than what the author explains about the need to change some of what a real person would go through with Kevin’s issues, you see some of what happens to a person with his abuse issues. It was emotionally devastating for the reader to find out what happened to Kevin. Tom on the other hand I never really got as much of a connection with. He does show how a partner’s mental issues affect those around them but other than that he was a bit flat.
The ending of the story also didn’t work for me. I would think that Kevin would have to recover some more before the two men would even consider further commitment. I have no doubt that Kevin might have offered but I didn’t feel that Kevin was enough emotionally steady yet in his recovery. (I know many have complained about the mom issue. I didn’t think it was that out of character. I know many that have terrible trauma with a parent but still hope to have a connection and continue to reach out. Kevin’s character seems like one who would do this.)
The story was an excellent read and one that will stay with me for a while. Compelling and emotional as it was there was a wonderful, hopeful message about recovery contained within. I think it a very worthwhile read.