Summary Review: A story that will move you and make your heart ache for Tate, a damaged and broken man, and Brian who made him whole.
Tate “Talker” Walker has spent most of his life hiding his scars under a bright punk facade, and until he sat next to Brian Cooper on a bus, it worked. But Brian has spent his whole life being the invisible man, and he’s used to looking below the surface. What he sees in Talker is a fragile and lovable human being.
Brian is outwardly straight, but Talker is desperate for love, and when Talker’s behavior leads to some painful consequences, Brian is forced to come out of his closet—in dramatic fashion. He’ll do anything to make sure Talker sees that he’s the Prince Charming Talker has always needed.
“There’s none so blind as those who will not see.” This phrase fit both Brian and Tate to a ‘T’.
Brian was on the way to his first track meet when Tate came on the bus. He was scary looking with his tribal tats and piercings extending all over his head and face and other visible areas of his body, obviously designed to divert attention from what he didn’t want anyone to see, his scars. But Brian was glad when Tate sat next to him because he felt like a freak after a month in college with no friends, and even scary looking Tate was better than no one. As he got to know him better Brian realized that Tate was always talking, twitching and dancing to music that was either playing in his head or through his ear buds, and he was constantly in motion as if he couldn’t stop. The other kids made fun of Tate’s looks and his sexual orientation, but Brian was only too happy to have him as a friend.
For two and a half years Brian and Tate remained best friends, and for nine months they lived together in a crappy apartment eating Ramen noodles because Brian had lost his athletic scholarship when he blew out his arm and his part-time job could only go so far to pay expenses. Tate suggested that they share a place even though he still had his scholarship and could have continued to live free in the college dorm, but he wanted to be with Brian. Initially Brian assumed that his love for Tate was based on friendship and had nothing to do with sex. It took his then girlfriend, Virginia, to show him that he was not all that straight, and in fact he was just as gay as Tate, the only difference was he had been living in a closet all his life. The fact that he looked like the All-American young man with his blond hair, blue eyes and a body and face to die for had women throwing themselves at him, so even the thought of being gay was a foreign concept for him.
Tate was as different from Brian as night from day. He had had a horrible childhood with the physical scars to prove it. His mother, an alcoholic, accidentally set their apartment on fire when he was very young – she died but he was left with burns over his entire body. His father was another loser, consequently he ended up in foster care. Despite countless surgeries he was left terribly disfigured and his scars made him wary of everyone. Tate thought of himself as unlovable except for Brian who he knew loved him, but what neither of them realized until it was almost too late was that it was the kind of love he craved. He was so vulnerable, lonely and hungry for affection that he would place himself in dangerous situations despite Brian’s warnings, and when he found himself a job that only he would think was OK, Brian became really scared that he would get hurt. Eventually, because he was determined to lose his virginity, he ended up with a man who had no respect for the gift he was offering and Tate’s entire life changed. That night the music died for the man who played music in his head all day and all night long, and Brian could only grieve for his friend who learned such a painful lesson, and the worst part was that Tate blamed himself and thought it was no more than he deserved. Although Brian could not undo the physical and mental damage to his best friend, for the first time in his young life he acted like an adult and made the creep who hurt Tate pay for what he had done so that he would never come near him again.
Talker is not a lighthearted story but I would urge you to read it because you will be moved by Tate who had suffered so much rejection in his short life that he had no feelings of self worth. Brian was determined to show him how much he was loved and made what was for him a huge sacrifice so that Talker would see him and believe that he was in love with him and wanted him sexually. Tate told him at one point that it was too bad he wasn’t gay because then their relationship could go somewhere, but it was okay because Brian made him feel safe.
Great characterizations are what I look for whenever I pick up a book, even more than a wonderful plot with all the bells and whistles, and in Talker Amy Lane excelled with two well drawn protagonists who were very different but recognized that their greatest need and gift was each other. Talker is told from Brian’s third person POV so we don’t really get to know as much about Tate’s thoughts except through Brian, but what was revealed was someone fragile and vulnerable who desperately wanted to be loved.
The secondary characters were also well drawn but the one I liked the best was Virginia, Brian’s girlfriend, who made him see the light and admit he was gay by using what I thought was a pretty unique strategy. 🙂 Brian’s aunt Lyndie who homeschooled him was another terrific character, and she helped him with his transformation to make Talker realize that there was nothing Brian would not do to win his heart. Another excellent character in the book was Jed, the bouncer at the club where Tate worked. This author’s greatest skill is in creating wonderful characters and all of them in Talker deserved a nod. As for the sex, it was smokin’ hot and in the end Talker and Brian went up in flames.
Talker is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.