Title: Regularly Scheduled Life
Author: K.A. Mitchell
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: 296 pages (print; also ebook)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5
Guest review by Leslie
Sean and Kyle have enjoyed six perfect years of what their friends called a disgustingly happy relationship. But what happens one sunny morning might be more than even the most loving couple can survive. When the bell rings that morning in chemistry teacher Sean’s first-period class, a terrifying sound fills the hall: gunshots. Sean runs to tackle the shooter, sustaining a bullet wound to his leg. He is unable to save the lives of the principal and two students. Kyle hears about the shooting on the radio, and in the flash of an instant finds his life irrevocably altered. Everything, especially his heart, hangs suspended in a nightmare until he finds out Sean is alive. Kyle’s just relieved the worst is over. Or is it? Putting that day behind them isn’t as simple as it sounds. As Sean struggles to make something positive out of the tragedy, Kyle fights to save their relationship from the dangers of publicity and Sean’s unwillingness to face how the crisis has changed him.
I often think about what it would be like to have life change in an instant: a terrible car accident, a home invasion, a shooting. The latter should be non-existent in schools and unfortunately is not; that is the story that is explored in Regularly Scheduled Life.
Sean is a high school science teacher in Canton, Ohio (home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame). He is popular with his students and well-liked among his peers. He lives with his partner of six years, Kyle, in the home they own together. Their partying days are behind them and they are happy in their comfortable, middle-class life.
All that changes one morning in early October when Sean becomes a hero and victim in the same minute when a deranged student opens fire outside his chemistry lab.
As the story unfolds, it is not clear who is having the harder time dealing with the tragedy. Kyle feels like his life has been ripped apart. On more than one occasion he wishes things could go back to “the way they were” and even suggests selling their home and moving as a way to do this. Sean is a reluctant hero who is suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, trying to come to grips with what is expected of him in this new role that he never asked for. On top of that, Sean is now very publicly out; the fact that he was gay wasn’t really a secret, but it also wasn’t something that was widely discussed. Now, his sexuality is the defining characteristic of who Sean is and that brings a whole other set of problems to his recuperation and recovery.
The story covers a six-month period from October to March and clearly conveys the emotional roller coaster that Kyle and Sean are on during that time. They try to manage with their usual ways of coping but in the new reality of their lives, their tried and true tactics don’t necessarily work very well. Fortunately, they have some good friends who are there to help and provide support; even so, at the end of the day the responsibility rests with Kyle and Sean to figure out how to put the pieces of their lives, and their life as a couple, back together.
The story, in general, was well written and held my attention. One thing I wish was that there was a tighter edit to remove some of the various sub-plots and random bits of information that didn’t really need to be there. For example, it was mentioned a few times that Kyle had a bit of an obsessive-compulsive personality and liked things done a certain way, such as eating Cheerios every morning for breakfast. I concentrated on remembering that fact, thinking it might be meaningful, but in the end, it had no relevance to the story and I wondered why it was even included. Another example: Kyle’s nephew was described several times as being “the devil’s spawn,” which personally, I think is a hugely insulting way to describe a three year old. Since the kid didn’t go off and do something horrible, like burn down the house (in fact, all he was was a walk-on character during Christmas dinner), why use this descriptor multiple times? My point is that there was a whole lot of “stuff” that could have easily been eliminated without any impact on the plotline. If the writing was a little “leaner and meaner,” the book, on the whole, would have benefitted. That’s the reason for my 4.25 star rating.
Overall, this was a good book and I enjoyed it. It has lots of steamy sex (once Sean was released from his medical restriction, that is) and the path that Kyle and Sean traversed from tragedy through ultimate healing was presented in a realistic, complex way. Ignore the irrelevant bits and it is certainly a book that is worth a few hours of your reading time.
Disclaimer: Wave gave me a copy of this book to read for this review, however, the formatting on the PDF did not convert nicely for my Kindle. Since I was enjoying the book, I didn’t feel like plowing through the lousy formatting, so I ended up buying the Kindle version from Amazon.