Title: The Telling
Author: Eden Winters
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A Guest review by John
Time spent in Iraq cost Michael Ritter more than just the hearing in one ear. It cost him a friend, one whose death he feels responsible for. When he eagerly left Alabama for what he believed would be a grand adventure, he thought to escape his small hometown and the life that awaited him there. A lot can happen in four years, and now Michael’s back, bringing a duffle full of personal demons with him.
Four years ago Jay Ortiz left home for the first time to attend college, in a place where his both his heritage and his orientation aren’t widely accepted. While adjusting to his new surroundings, he found a picture of a young soldier. During dark and lonely times he confided in the image of the stoic young man, until one day he discovered that he’d given his heart away to someone he’d never met. Now that man was coming home…
In a world of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, there comes a time when you have to decide who and what you are.
This is my first time reviewing a book. I’ve commented here at Wave’s blog many times, but never figured I’d have the chance to do a review. Thank you, Wave!
The blurb is very accurate for The Telling. Michael has been away from his family for 4 years serving in the Army and now he is almost home. He left home a kid, seeking adventure, and he comes back with wounds not physically visible. In this story we journey with him as he deals with getting his life back together. And from the first, we learn that Michael thinks he might be gay. He had the girlfriends in high school as he attempted to do what everyone in his small town expected. But his heart just wasn’t in it. He’s afraid of what the bigoted rednecks will say, what his mom, sister, and grandparents will do. But he’s tired of hiding and tired of being alone.
Angie, his half-sister, picks him up at the Atlanta airport after his discharge and immediately starts filling him on what he has missed. Well, he hasn’t missed much because life doesn’t change much in his small town. Michael admires his sister because of what she has overcome and how she is making something of herself. They are both concerned about their mom, Sarah, who has married and divorced several men, mostly losers. The last step-father was verbally and physically abusive to Michael.
From the small apartment over his mom’s bookstore, Michael begins his healing. He is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and survivor’s guilt. Dreams haunt his sleep of an ambush by the enemy in Iraq. Michael survives, but one of his best friends, Jimmy, dies. Why? Why wasn’t he stationed in his normal position within the convoy?
The author of this sad, but heartening and then exhilarating story, takes us on this journey one step at a time. The story of the ambush comes out in little snippets, in a nightmare, a flashback in the midst of a party, and in Michael’s therapy sessions. We read of his fear to ‘come out’ to his mom, sister, and grandparents. His attraction to Jay, and Jay’s attraction to him. Their slow and halting feeling each other out and then the avalanche of feelings and actions as they make love the first time.
Michael fears that Jay will tire of his slow healing, but Jay has experienced what Michael is going through with a cousin and is willing to help all he can.
Jay is dealing with his own issues. He is gay and Hispanic in a small town in the deep south. But his heart is solid gold. He’s a good guy. He is already loved and accepted by Angie, Sarah, and Michael’s grandparents. Jay has been in love with Michael for 4 years, since he first saw a picture of Michael as a brand new soldier. But can Michael return his love?
So much angst and self doubt in our two heroes. Can they get beyond their problems and make each other whole?
After I first read The Telling, I emailed Eden Winters and praised her book. She wrote back and commented that the process of writing was a form of therapy for her. I asked her to explain. She says that she sees parts of her life experiences in each of the main characters. She also says that the sex scenes are the first she’s ever written. I think she did just fine.
Oh, and if you cry easily, then keep the tissues handy. There’s a big tear jerker in one of Michael’s therapy sessions.
There were times when I didn’t understand Michael’s fear of wide open spaces. I farm and ranch, I can’t relate. But then I can relate when Michael fears coming out to his family. I haven’t told my dad or my sister that I’m gay. And how will my church family react? Business acquaintances?
The Telling is an excellent book! (There are some misspellings, but it wasn’t professionally edited.) And since it is free, share with your friends guilt free. I rate it at least a 5, maybe even a DIK.
Eden also told me that a sequel is planned.
Thanks again for this opportunity Wave.
John is a regular on the site and he was so enthused about this book that I asked him to write a review. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did. Thanks again John – much appeciated.
The Telling is a free, self published book which was donated by the author, Eden Winters, and is available for download at this link.
Eden’s books are available from Torquere Press at this link