Taboo for You
Sunday’s latest gay romance twines three story lines together tightly to make one wonderfully refreshing novel. Divorced father Sam is facing his 30th birthday having done nothing but work and be a parent since he was 15. His next door neighbor Luke lusts after Sam but settles on being his ultra-support. And nearly 15-year-old Jeremy just wants his parents off his back so he and his girlfriend can have sex.
As the story begins, Luke has just returned from Auckland after caring for his ill mother and supporting his sister as she gets a divorce. After living next to Sam and Jeremy for seven years after his lover broke up with him, Luke surprises himself by coming out to his family because he’s decided he wants a life with Sam.
But he can’t tell Sam that he’s gay after reading Sam’s “Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 30” list. Since Sam doesn’t date but is a responsible, overworked father full time, Luke figures his only hope of getting close to Sam is by making sure he does the things on the list, including “swim with sharks” and “do something sexually taboo – or just have sex again.”
Even more likeable than the supportive yet shy Luke is dedicated, reliable Sam, who is envious of his son because he sees Jeremy as coming up to the years he missed when he became a father at age 15. Sam’s list is pretty bland, including things like getting drunk, changing his appearance, and reading the classics he missed as a high school dropout. He’s noble in the simple way of men who do what’s right for others despite the hardship it costs them.
Jeremy is a typical nearly 15-year-old boy who’s discovering his sexuality. He wants to explore despite parents who want only the best for him and over-teach him about safe sex (using condoms and bananas to his chagrin). He also wants the stability of both Sam and Luke as well as his mother who is afraid of rocking his boat by introducing him to the new man in her life.
Sunday twists these threads around, creating a wonderfully entertaining picture of average people coping with the ups and downs of life. She’s populated her story with strong, believable friends and family members to give readers the comfortable, down-home feelings of community and a good life. There are no villains here, only people who could easily be our next door neighbors.
My only tiny quibble comes with the way the story is told alternating from the perspectives of the three major players: Sam, Luke, and Jeremy. Occasionally, when exposition or description entered, I lost track of whose perspective I was reading and had to backtrack. But that was only a minor inconvenience in this sweetly told story.
Having gone through my own 30th birthday crisis, I could empathize with Sam, yet knew he was in good hands with Luke, and even with the playful, totally teenage Jeremy. Everyone should have neighbors as nice as these three.