One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox

One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox
Stars: 4.5/5

If you want the same old two-friends-secretly-in-love-with-each-other story, then move on. While the running plot of the story is that Holly and Nick love each other but think the other isn't interested (with a dash of "we're just friends" added in), that's not all there is to the story. Instead we are taken down a path of the men accepting what they need and realizing the other has to give it. It's about wanting something outside the norm and finding that it's okay, all done tastefully and with the grace of love.

What I found interesting about this story was the casual acceptance of sexuality. Although it's a present-day piece, no one has any negative reaction to them being bisexual or gay. This was a nice change of pace from stories where this is a complication, often a major theme of the novel. However, in this story where there are so many other troubles they need to overcome, it would have cluttered the focus and I think it was well handled. Nick isn't tentative in his feelings for Holly because being gay is wrong, but because the feelings are only one sided. It's treating their relationship like any het relationship would be treated, and it was well done.

If you want a story with plenty of emotional struggling, this is a bath in the Lake of Angst. The authors never cross the line and make it too much, but we have Holly's struggles and Nick's need to care for him, and when everything's beginning to work out, Nick is the one who needs a helping hand. While this could come off as implausible, I found it worked well with the characters and the sequence of events, which explained everything.

In addition to characters the reader can relate to and an emotionally deep story, the writing is what brings everything together. If it weren't for the excellent story telling, this piece could have been angsty instead of struggling, whiny instead of needy, and ruined by the minimal use of outside characters. Instead, it centers on the lives of these two men and the others in their lives, who take a small role in their lives compared with one another.

My only complaint with this story is the end dragged out a little long. While I enjoyed everything being wrapped up nicely and all the ends tied off, I didn't feel it was strictly necessary. I applaud the authors for not just ending when they finally got each other, but the novel wasn't quite as enjoyable once they were together (although still enjoyable), perhaps because so much of the novel travels on empathy for their struggle.

No comments: