Title: Mulligans (2nd Edition)
Author: Charlie David
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 25, 2016
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Chase never had many friends, but at college, he meets and forms close ties with straight jock Tyler Davidson—a connection he fears he’ll lose if he tells Tyler he’s gay. Keeping his sexuality secret becomes harder for Chase as he joins Tyler and his family at their idyllic lake house for the summer. It grows more and more difficult for Chase to avoid Tyler’s attempts to set him up with girls, and he’s tired of making excuses. Chase is ready to embrace the man he is, but he’s afraid of what it will cost him.
The Davidsons seem like the perfect family, but Chase soon realizes there’s trouble in paradise. Tyler’s dad, Nathan, has done everything to make a good life for his wife and children—including suppressing his sexuality and denying his needs for years. But like Chase, Nathan is growing weary of living a lie. What begins as an offer of support from Chase grows into an unexpected attraction that will have profound effects on everyone. Chase and the Davidsons are about to learn that there’s no such thing as a perfect family, but that perfection isn’t a requirement for friendship and love.
noun mul·li·gan \’me-li-gen\
: a free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played
In life, when faced with a mulligan, do you take the do-over, or do you play it as it lies? This is the dilemma facing the Davidson family in Charlie David’s book based on his 2009 movie Mulligans.
Ostensibly the story is about Chase, Tyler’s best friend and roommate who spends the summer with Tyler and his family at their lake house. Chase is the catalyst for change that summer – change within himself as he comes out, and change within each member of the Davidson family.
Charlie David does a masterful job of introducing Nathan and Stacey with all their fears and regrets. Stacey hides behind her impenetrable FHF (“Fucking Happy Face”) and holds tightly to the belief “We can’t always get what we’d like. We have to enjoy what we’re given.” Small consolation for a woman who realizes “that whoever she had once been, she had lost somewhere a very long time ago.”
Nathan finds himself equally disenchanted by the happy facade of their life. As he ponders:
Stuff, stuff, everywhere just stuff, and this was his life. A life that had been fastidiously designed, and as he looked around he realized how little it all meant to him. He was becoming detached. He loved his family very much, but the idea of pulling around the weight of all these years of memories and mementos seemed a burden.
Please be aware that Here Be Spoilers. It’s hard to review this book without spilling some crucial information, so Do Not Pass Go / Do Not Collect $200 if you haven’t read Mulligans yet.
Mulligans is not a romance – there are only a few kissing scenes and any sex is off-page. Sex in Mulligans is like Adam and Eve eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden – it isn’t intrinsically bad, it creates self-awareness. Stacey eyes are opened when she inadvertently sees Chase and Nathan kissing in the rough of the golf course. Nathan and Chase come together, not in a moment of hot passion, but one of discovery and self-awareness. As Chase tells Tyler: “I thought that maybe I could help him be who he really is ….”
And in the aftermath, it appears that Nathan is ready for his “do-over”. He believes it was his destiny to become a father, and treasures his family, “But now … now he wondered if there wasn’t a new destiny awaiting him, one that would require him to stop denying his true nature and embrace his authentic self.” Stacey, on the other hand, is willing to “play it as it lies” wanting to preserve her family in some form: “I don’t care that you’re gay, Nathan. I chose this life, with you, and everything that comes with it.”
And Chase? In the first part of the book, he meets Jarod who isn’t willing to come out, but the possibility is left open at the end of the book that he and Chase might have their “second chance at their first time.” I would love to read a sequel to discover what happens to Nathan, does Stacey create a fulfilling life for herself, does Chase have a relationship with Jarod?
Charlie David has created a captivating story with no easy answers. And it is beautifully written:
The fir trees seemed to stretch on forever into the night, and high above, long strokes of colored light chased each other across the sky. The tops of the trees were like pointed paintbrushes splashing iridescent hues over one another before fading into the blackness and beginning again.