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The View From A Rusty Train Car Paperback – July 25, 2012
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The first line of the blurb is one of my favorite lines of the book. “No one talks about what happens when you fall in love with the boy next door — not when you’re the boy living beside the boy next door.” That line, and the other lines that go with it in the book are unfortunately still a truthism in the majority of the United States, even in 2014. Parents really aren’t prepared for their son to come home and introduce them to the “man” they are in love with.
The book is written as a series of flashbacks. It begins with Jared speaking in front of a group of people, although we don’t find out who they are until the last chapter of the book. Jared is recounting the story of Luke and their complicated on again / off again relationship which is caused by society’s lack of acceptance of the love of two men.
In the book, Jared and Luke meet the day Jared and his family move into their new house in 1987. They are instantly inseparable. They go on to share everything over the next few years, including their first kiss in the confines of a rusty old train car in a junkyard behind their homes. They figure they are safe there, away from prying eyes.
Unfortunately someone sees them near the end of high school and their lives are forever changed. Luke’s mother deals with it in the worst way possible, placing Luke in forced conversion therapy. Jared has no idea where Luke is gone. Nor does anyone else. There begins a series of miscommunications, homophobia, and separation.
These two characters go through a lot in the book. Sickness, war, college, even falling in love with other people, but they still first and foremost love each other, even when they aren’t communicating. There is a happy ending of sorts and reconciliations, but there is also some pretty hefty sadness.
I’m not going to say much else, because I don’t want to do any further spoilers. If you’re looking for one of those sex on every other page romance novels, this isn’t it, because it doesn’t have any sex scenes. In fact, I’m not sure this book qualifies as a romance novel. In my opinion it is more of a tragedy, but a tragedy you need to read. The subject matter is pulled from the headlines over the last 20 years and even today. If you are a gay man, or a friend or family member of a gay man, you should read the book. Just this week, the U.N. Committee Against Torture questioned U.S. officials about conversion therapy still being legal in 48 states. Who Jared is speaking to is revealed at the end of the book and it is as relevant today as it was when the book was written two year ago.
I very highly recommend the book. The characters, both main and supporting, and the story are very well written. The story instills true emotions of happiness, joy, anger, sadness and acceptance as you’re reading the book. I finished reading it last night, but this morning I’m still heavily in book hangover status from this one. I’ve already added this book to my must re-read list.
Take my advice, consider a break from the light fluff pieces and read Mr. Arens’ book. You won’t be sorry!
RATING: 5 Stars (Originally Reviewed for Love Bytes Same Sex Romance Reviews)
Wait. No, it isn't amazing. That's how it's supposed to be.
I read DeeJay Arens' debut novel The View From a Rusty Train Car from Writers AMuse Me Publishing in three days on breaks during a conference in San Francisco, of all places. I could hardly put it down. While also being touching and well-written, this book reminds us that all of these things I mentioned earlier should not be taken for granted. It's a story of two men in love, and the consequences of that love.
In a time of angry pro and anti Chick-Fil-A arguments, Arens presents a normal love story. Well, it should be a normal love story; it's really anything but. Not because of the same-sex nature of the love, but rather the reaction to it. It's a tale that everyone - whether strongly for gay marriage, decidedly against it, or somewhere in between - should read.
It is a love story. Not a rant, as it could be. And if you think the things that happen in it are far-fetched, do some Googling. For that, other than the writing itself, is the amazing thing about Arens' novel. It all happens. We'll all be ashamed of it one day, but it happens. But to Arens' credit, the numerous antagonists are never presented as hateful bigots, but rather - as they often are in real life - childish thugs, disapproving family members, or the overly-religious.
There's been a lot said and written about gay rights over the years. Do yourself a favor, especially if you're more likely to be in opposition, and read The View From a Rusty Train Car. If it doesn't get you thinking, I don't know what will.
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I loved this 59 chapter book. It took me on an emotional rollercoaster with the ups and downs, highs and...Read more