Trust Me

Title: Trust Me
Author: Jeff Erno
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M YA contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
I had mixed feelings about this YA contemporary which dealt with some serious issues tempered with a sweet romance.

THE BLURB

Shawn Graham and Bobby Wilder couldn’t be more different. Shawn is a devout Christian fundamentalist from northern Michigan; Bobby is a street-smart latchkey kid from southern Ohio. From an early age, they are both confused and troubled by their attraction to the same sex. Shawn believes that homosexuality is sinful, and a traumatic incident of childhood sexual abuse adds to his guilt and shame. Bobby has an image to maintain and flatly denies the possibility that his same-sex attractions even exist. He’s just too cool to be gay. When they finally connect, their preconceptions are suddenly dwarfed by what they feel for each other.

They become inseparable and fall deeply in love; however, love doesn’t make life easy. Plans are in motion that will surely devastate the young couple. Painful experiences of the past overshadow happy memories, and heartbreaking obstacles loom over the possibility of a future. If Shawn and Bobby want to stay together, they will have to fight with everything they have.

THE REVIEW

I was attracted to this book because one of the characters is a devout Christian and I wanted to see how that would be handled in an m/m love story. In the end that aspect was done well, with a balanced view of both sides of the argument from both conservative and liberal Christians, but there were other parts of the book – mainly to do with the structure and the writing – which didn’t work as well for me.

Shawn has been a Christian all his life. He embodies the stereotype of a devout young man in that he is gentle and kind, always seeking the good in others and working hard at school and at church. However, as he gets older Shawn begins to realise that he’s possibly gay and that leads to much confusion and self hatred, especially when coupled with other things that have happened to him in the past. When Shawn meets bad boy Bobby, who is almost the complete opposite of Shawn in the way he lives his life, there’s a powerful attraction between them and nothing is going to stand in the way of their love. Or so they think…

I found whilst reading this book that my feelings towards it would veer from one extreme to the other. In terms of the writing and the way the story was structured, it was very simplistic and lacking in subtlety. For example, the story follows a strict linear pattern beginning when Shawn is 5 and then following alternating viewpoints between Shawn and Bobby as they grow up and become teenagers. More often than not, we are told the story rather than shown. There’s no withholding of information, no leaving the reader in suspense (except by breaking off the viewpoints at a cliffhanger and moving onto the next viewpoint), no use of subtle body language and action. Everything is in words, either the thoughts of the characters, the dialogue between them or the omniscient narrator telling the story of these boys’ lives. In addition to this, the reader is often told the same information over and over again at various points of the book which annoyed me as I don’t need to be retold something I learned earlier in the book. The simplistic structure and style of the book was a little dull, and irritating at times and at several points in the book I found myself getting a bit bored.

Having said that, just as I was getting bored, the author would hit me with what he does best – writing gripping, emotional scenes. There were several points in the book where something dramatic would happen, often involving Shawn, and I would be thoroughly engrossed in the story and what was happening to him. I was, at times, horrified, tearful and overwrought by what was happening on the page, and each time this happened I was amazed at how easily the story played on my emotions and how caught up in the events I had become.

The characters themselves, especially Shawn and Bobby, were very well rounded, especially as we really get to grips with their thoughts and feelings. Shawn is perhaps a little too perfect, and I sometimes found it hard to believe the depth of his self-loathing given that he has so much affirmation in his life. Out of the two heroes I liked Bobby best, and I thought the author did a good job in showing the circumstances that led to the young man that Bobby becomes. I also liked the positive influence that Shawn has on Bobby, and the way they click easily together and become firm friends. The love between them grows quickly, but given their age and personalities I could see that being a realistic turn of events.

This brings me to something which may be off-putting to some readers: The age of the heroes. They are 15, and the book does contain explicit sex, although written quite subtly. It didn’t bother me, because I know full well that 15/16 year olds have consensual sex with those they fall in love with (in fact my best friend at school was having sex with her boyfriend at that age), but I can see how that may not appeal to all readers, so it’s worth mentioning.

So, as you can see, I had mixed feelings about the book. I liked the characters, and even the secondary characters were fully realised, but found the structure of the book clunky. The emotional content was riveting but the repetition and the telling rather than showing, meant that parts of the book were also quite dull at times. If you’re a fan of Jeff Erno’s books then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in this one, although it’s nowhere near as good as his Puppy Love books, which I would recommend over this one for anyone who wants to try this author.

20 comments

  • I know Im behind, but I didnt want to read your review until I finished the book. I enjoyed the story, it was my first YA in this genre. I did feel that the story went long. At the end, I was getting frustrated with Mama and Stepdaddy and just wanted to see the ending.
    Great review.

    Reply
    • Hi Hannava

      So glad you liked the book. As a genre, YA is often under-represented in m/m romance but there are some others you can try if you want to read more. Most of them are not as explicit as this book though.

      Reply
  • Hmm… I downloaded the sample and just couldn’t get into it at all. When I read your review it clarified some stuff for me. Thanks and I agree it was a very good review.

    Reply
  • Hey, Jenre. I haven’t read this book so I can’t really give my opinion either way on it. But I do feel that your method of reviewing books is quite fair. I also feel that everyone has the right to overreact to your review. So I guess I’m a little torn. 🙂

    ~smooches~
    Jase

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jase :).

      Jeff is a popular author with many fans who love his writing, and love him as a reviewer and on-line personality, so I was expecting a number of people to comment on this review disagreeing with it. I’m just grateful that everyone has been polite and not resorted to name calling (as has happened previously when I’ve written a negative review of a popular author’s book).

      As I’ve often said, I’m just one reader/reviewer and I know that Jeff has had many other, more positive, reviews for this book, so you should really go and read those too if you want a rounded opinion on Trust Me before you buy/read.

      Reply
  • I really don’t agree with this review. I read the book and felt the Erno did a wonderful job with how he handled the narration. If he would have shown you everything, the book would have been 600 pages. He covered the important relevant parts of the story and he did that well. The whole point was to get to the story itself, to Bobby and Shawn and when Jeff got there, he did it well.

    Reply
    • Hi Cassandra

      I’m afraid I have to disagree with you, I felt that there was a lot of extraneous information which could have been cut out of the book to make it a smoother read. As the best parts of the book for me were in the interactions between the characters, much more could have been shown about Shawn, Bobby and their past during those times rather than the lengthy biography of the two heroes given in the first 100 pages before they officially meet as a couple (there is one short meet earlier in the book). But, as I said, I’m only one reader and there will be many others, such as yourself, who won’t have a problem with it.

      Reply
  • Speaking for myself I loved this book, it really was an extraordinary and wonderful story of young love between two boys who were total opposites but once together they make each of their lives truly happy for the first time. Also I was interested in the way the story of each boy’s life one harsh and neglected and the other had Christian faith at the heart of his life which was portrayed in an interesting and thought provoking way. Of course intolerance and other unfortunate incidences take place that do and have happened in some people’s lives. Overall I highly recommend the story to YA readers as well as adults.

    Reply
    • Hi Shirley
      Thanks for your comment. The romance was certainly the most appealing part of this book, as was the way that the boys complemented each other despite their different backgrounds.

      Reply
  • Like you, Jenre, I’m curious as to how the Christian aspect of the book will progress, and I’ve got this one in my TBR pile. I’ve also developed an interest in YA books lately, so I’m doubly intrigued. Now to find time to read. Here’s hoping for an ereader for Christmas.

    Reply
    • You’ve been talking about getting an ereader for ages, Eden :). Here’s hoping Santa is kind to you this year!

      This would be a good book for those interested in m/m YA romance, especially as it doesn’t shy away from the physical side of their relationship.

      Reply
  • This is such a wonderful, touching and captivating book. I loved the characters and the slow pace of the story so much. I really don’t understand how you can say that it is boring. Giving the book only 3.5 stars just because you didn’t like the writing style is unfair. It is such a great read and I hope fans of this blog will give it a try despite the bad review. It really deserves a much better rating.

    Reply
    • I’m glad you liked the book, Anya, because it’s always good for readers to see a range of opinions before they buy.

      I review a book based on many things such as character, plot, whether the romance worked and also on written style. Many of my reviews comment on the style of the writing and whether it worked for me or not. In this case it didn’t work for me, but it may be just fine for other readers, as you have shown..

      Reply
  • Jen: Unsurprisingly, my reaction to the book was similar. 🙂 Too much telling, not enough showing! The scenes in which the characters actually interact were definitely the strongest part of the book, as you noted. I got really, REALLY annoyed at the lecturey meta bits, too.

    Reply
  • I started reading this book a few weeks ago but I read a review that stopped me from finishing it. I was wondering if you could clear something up for me concerning the story. Now this question maybe considered spoilerish so other readers might want to skip the rest of my comment.

    The review I read said something about Shawn being sent away after his mother finds out about him and Bobby. It also said that Bobby wasn’t there for Shawn when he came home. This bothered me, the idea of Bobby not caring about Shawn or not being there for him. Also are they apart for a really long time?

    Great review by the way.

    Reply

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