A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Does coming clean with his being gay really mean that Matthew Kellett will lose his best friend Craig Jefferies? Or will Matthew turn his back on what could be the love of his life in order to save his friendship?
Blurb: Matthew Kellett and Craig Jefferies are lifelong friends and neighbors. They thought they knew everything about each other, but some secrets seem too big share. Craig hides the truth about his father—but Matthew’s secret is his own. To celebrate their high school graduation, Craig, Matthew, and Craig’s girlfriend take a road trip up the east coast of Australia to Byron Bay. Then one night on the beach, everything changes: Matthew meets Damien, a college student who senses what Matthew is hiding. Though the connection between them is undeniable, Matthew scrambles to keep it secret. It will take a shocking revelation from Craig and a lot of courage to get Matthew back on the road to Byron—and the boy waiting there.
Review: Okay…so yes, I admit to having a bit of a crush on author Isabelle Rowan. And, yes, I might have squealed just a bit when I found out I was going to review The Road to Byron, her latest release. Okay, sure I might have done a lengthy happy dance around my kindle the moment the novella showed up on the home page. However, I did resolve right then and there to give an honest review despite my love affair with this author’s work.
So….five stars. Is The Road to Byron really worth five stars? Oh dear reader, yes–every single one of them.
“I wanted to tell you, mate. I wanted you to know who I am, but I was scared. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life being scared of something…not just this. Always scared.”
What a crushing burden it must be–to harbor a secret–a deep secret that defines the very essence of who you are. Matthew Kellett is gay and no one knows, most definitely not his widowed father and absolutely not his best friend Craig. In fact, there are times in this novella when we realize that even Matthew himself is so deeply afraid of revealing his true self that he hides the truth even from himself–evades it–runs from it as fast as he can.
Fortunately, when Matthew locks eyes with Damien across a crowded beach party, the truth can no longer stay hidden. Matthew has finally met the boy who is going to turn his world on end and throw the closet door wide open–even if that means someone is going to get slammed with the truth. Craig Jefferies doesn’t see that door coming until it’s too late and the last thing he wants is to realize that his best friend has harbored a secret–much like he has.
Isabelle Rowan takes one battered and angry boy, Craig and his frightened, grieving and, yes, gay best friend and sends them on the road to realization and a life-changing journey. She writes these two young men with heart-breaking compassion and truth. She slowly reveals how Craig has spent his life evading his father’s drunken fists and has been escaping to his best friend Matthew’s house since he was nine years old.
With raw emotion she explains that Matthew has never recovered from his mother’s death and gives us a glimpse of the deep chasm that has opened between Matty and his father that has caused him to hide his sexuality and his real feelings.
Here is the beauty of Isabelle Rowan’s writing. She takes a simple story and weaves into it a deep vein of truth and soul searing conflict. She makes our hearts stutter when she reveals that sometimes life just can’t be tied up in neat packages and she plays our emotions like a well tuned violin when she reveals that love can truly conquer all if we only give it a chance.
The Road to Byron was more than just a coming of age story. It was a bold and, at times, heartbreaking declaration that we cannot run from our true selves, rather, we must face it head on and dig in deep when the winds begin to blow. And, in the end, this novella made the strong case that there really can be a happy ending even when the road to happiness is not always smooth.
My dear readers, this was a tender love story on so many levels–with so many layers. I do believe that you might not want to pass this little gem by–but, as always, the choice is yours. So, what do you say? Why not grab your sunglasses and hop in the car. The Road to Byron by Isabelle Rowan is a road trip you may not want to miss.