10 September 2014

Living Again by Brynn Stein

 Daniel Larson has walled himself off from any possibility of romance since his lover died violently five years ago in Afghanistan. The same bomb that ended his partner’s life took the lower part of Daniel’s left leg. The only support Daniel has, his Uncle Lawrence, is dead-set against anything homosexual, including Daniel.

Now, a popular language teacher at the local university, Daniel's suffering from a car accident that broke his one good leg. His uncle, who is much better at throwing money at things than offering emotional support, provides a rented power chair and a private in-home nurse. Unbeknownst to his uncle, the nurse comes in the form of a man named Jonah Thacker.

Instantly attracted, Daniel and Jonah fight their mutual feelings in favor of professionalism. They become friends anyway, and Jonah shares his life with Daniel, including his handicapped son, Ethan. As Jonah and Daniel grow closer, Daniel becomes more involved in Jonah and his son’s lives, even being there for Ethan when his medical conditions worsen. But when Daniel’s uncle finds out the nurse he's hired is male, he uses all of his resources to keep Jonah and Daniel apart.

Let me start this review talking about the book, then at the end I will explain my three star rating and hope that it makes sense to the readers.  This is a story of heart break, disappointment, despair, love, faith, trust and strength.  Yes all of those emotions were present for me in this book.  The author took two men who had been beaten down by life and people and planted them together along with a precious little boy who had suffered already in his short life. 
I am not going to spoil the story for you by telling you what the main characters are going to endure and face, I feel that for some it would considered spoiling the book and for others who are a bit shy towards very emotional reads, it would turn the away.  This is one of those books you will either be bored with quickly or be so emotionally invested it will take a while to recover from once you are done. I do want to give you the start to this plot so you can gain a sense of the emotions involved with Daniel and Jonah. 
They meet when Daniel wakes up in the hospital from an accident and Jonah is the nurse taking care of him.  We learn that Daniel already has a physical disability that is going to only make being independent with his current injuries impossible.  We also find that he is carrying around a lot of baggage and sorrow from his life along with an uncle who is totally against homosexuality, which makes it uncomfortable for Daniel since he is gay.  The synopsis pretty much tells you about Daniel’s background so I won’t go into that any farther.
Jonah felt his heart being pulled towards Daniel but he had to remain professional, he was the nurse/caregiver, he couldn’t take advantage of an injured man.  He also was terrified of commitment because he was still in pain from past rejections.  To add to this, he is raising his “son” who also had a disability and he had to put him first and make sure he didn’t bring anyone into their life that would hurt them.  Might I say right now that the little boy Ethan was so freaking inspirational and adorable, I fell in love with that kid. 
Now I will explain the reason for the 3 star review, let’s start with the cons.  I invest in stories that tug at my heart strings, that make me feel and cry but this was a bit too much.  It was one thing after another, so much so that it came across as more of a soap opera and became so unrealistic it began to bother me.  We start out with three flawed characters, all struggling to make life good with what little they had and the hits just kept coming.  At a few points I was screaming for the author to stop torturing them and let them have happiness.  The second con was the time it took for Daniel and Jonah to stop with the continued conversation of could they trust each other.  I can count at least three times that I sighed and thought please stop beating a dead horse, we got it, they are scared.  I would have liked for the author to spend less time on that and more time giving us their story of courage and taking each step in  building of their future and more Ethan and his cute personality.
There were many pro’s to this book, such as the writing style.  I really enjoyed the way the author used words to paint us the picture of what was going on.  Once in a while you come across an author who can actually put words together to make it more than a story but place the reader in the scene and I felt that with this book.  I loved the characters and their personalities for the most part, other than the times they got stuck in the winding loop of commitment, but the care and love they showed to others was refreshing.  Now something that might not be seen as a pro to most readers but I enjoyed it, was that the author faded to black with the sex.  I like taking a break from books that invest so much in the act of sex that they don’t show the real emotional bond between characters so this was a nice change for me and I am appreciative of it. 
My suggestion is if you don’t mind reading about depressing emotions throughout a whole book then you will find yourself totally invested in this story.  I give it a three because I had equal amounts of what I loved compared to the anguish that I felt during the time I spent in the story.  This is a great book for a certain type of person, one who can be swallowed up in dark emotions for a time and come out barely touched but if you are a person with high levels of empathy, then I say grab the tissues and be prepared to be affected. 


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