Title: Where There’s a Will Deanes (Get Out #4)
Author: Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, Teen Fiction
Page Count: 214
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.70 stars out of 5
Micah Johnson is coming back to Melbourne, and the story of him and his friends is coming to an end.
Or will it be a new beginning?
Will Deanes and Micah Johnson have a past, one that ranges from bitter enemies to best friends. There might be an undercurrent of something else, but Micah remains oblivious, and all Will can do is try to move on.
Except now Micah’s returning to Melbourne full-time, and that means they can’t avoid each other or the tensions that arise. Will is still dealing with an injury that ended his football career, while Micah’s continues to thrive. As they face highs, lows, and family tragedies, they’ll have to get to know each other all over again. Will Micah see that Will means much more to him than a friend?
After a long absence, Micah Johnson is recruited by a local football team and comes back to his home town, Melbourne. His best friend Will Deanes is delighted. Yet there are two things that bother him. Micah has a boyfriend, see, with whom he’s engaged in a weird long-distance “open relationship”, where one party gets to enjoy the open part (Tyler), while the other (Micah) has to make the relationship work. And the second thing is: Will doesn’t love Micah merely the way a best mate is supposed to love his buddy. No, he’s always been pining for him, and that feeling hasn’t weakened over the years. That’s why the first moments they spend together are somewhat awkward. All the more so as everybody around Will—his uncle Henry, Henry’s boyfriend Scotty, his boss Declan and the latter’s boyfriend Simon, even best friend hockey player Emma, just effing everybody—seems to be hinting at the heavy unreleased romantic tension hovering between him and Micah. Will doesn’t need that right now. He’s just recovering from a serious injury that put an end to his dreams of becoming a renowned football player and is trying to find his place at GetOut, the NGO founded by Declan, where he’s working now. In a nutshell, the novel shows us how Will and Micah find out what they really want, leading slowly but steadily to the (hoped-for) HEA. It’s above all an engaging book about the courage of owning one’s emotions, one’s fears, one’s past.
I have to admit that when I started to read it, I groaned inwardly and asked myself why I had ever agreed to tackle a novel about sports and sportsmen. Good ole me and sports (in any sense whatever, doing it, watching it, reading about it)… yikes, no huge love affair, see? I went through the first chapters somewhat grudgingly, until I realized that after only one evening, I had already devoured half the novel (took me only another evening to finish the deed). Gosh, I realized I liked the book! Its not being about sports after all helped a bit, no doubt, but I was really drawn in by all the questioning and inner turmoil Will’s going through (the book is told from his POV). I was pleasantly surprised that the romance wasn’t the main focus, and in those parts where it became more central, there was none of the sugary-flowery, fake-emotional high waves one could fear. No, the language remained to-the-point, calm, sometimes almost analytical, but simple and never boring or too distanced. The pace was slow, but what I’d call “a good slow”, because I was able to follow Will’s coming to terms with his feelings without having to cope with unwarranted strange jerks and twists and turns. Everything seemed to flow naturally, authentically.
I liked the setting. Melbourne and all of Down Under are fascinatingly exotic for this European dude. Don’t get me wrong, the US is just as exotic to me, but for once to live a story set in one of Australia’s largest and most iconic cities was a welcome change. I discovered that Australian football was a thing—over here in Europe the only football people know and care for is what you’d call “soccer” (well, others care for it; personally, I don’t give a toss). I even learned some new Aussie words: “pash”, for instance, which means “kiss and caress amorously” and is derived from the word “passion”—isn’t that just adorable?
But the best thing I can say about this book (the best thing anyone can ever say about any book): it made me stop and ponder. Whilst I was following Will’s tribulations, I was asking myself a lot of questions about my own past. Will and Micah are in their early twenties, see, and that’s been a very “busy” age for yours truly as well. Truckloads of new things, discoveries, experiences back then. For example, Will has a teenage past as an anti-gay bully, and I asked myself, “Have I ever bullied someone myself?”, which lead to some deeper thoughts and analyses. Will’s aching to have a fulfilling relationship with someone, and God did I ache for the same thing from age 20-30 at least. He’s in love with his best friend (who hasn’t gone through that at one point?) and doesn’t know how to (re)act. If he dares speak up, will that destroy the special friendship they already enjoy? So many themes, all intelligently dealt with, with no faux drama, lots of dry humour, realistic-sounding dialogues. I spend two pleasant evenings reading, thinking, and reminiscing.