Sunday, May 19, 2019

ARC Review: String Boys by Amy Lane

String Boys
Seth Arnold learned at an early age that two things in life could make his soul soar—his violin and Kelly Cruz. In Seth’s uncertain childhood, the kindness of the Cruz family, especially Kelly and his brother, Matty, gave Seth the stability to make his violin sing with the purest sound and opened a world of possibility beyond his home in Sacramento. 

Kelly Cruz has loved Seth forever, but he knows Seth’s talents shouldn’t be hidden, not when the world is waiting. Encouraging Seth to follow his music might break Kelly’s heart, but he is determined to see the violin set Seth’s soul free. When their world is devastated by a violent sexual assault and Matty’s prejudices turn him from a brother to an enemy, Seth and Kelly’s future becomes uncertain. 

Seth can’t come home and Kelly can’t leave, but they are held together by a love that they clutch with both hands. 

Seth and Kelly are young and the world is wide—the only thing they know for certain is they’ll follow their heartstrings to each other’s arms whenever time and fate allow. And pray that one day they can follow that string to forever… before it slices their hearts in two.

Todd's rating:

Gah! Separations. This story haz them. In spades.

As the book began, I adored seeing Seth and Matty as fourth graders, and third grader Kelly tagging along with the two best friends.

It was all very sweet and my little YA heart was just waiting for Seth to see that he was totally as head over heels for Kelly as Kelly was for him.

That finally happened some years later, after one fateful nap during a bus ride home, and I may or may not have done a little jig in my seat as I read that passage.

But shortly after, the Goddess of Angst made her first of many, MANY appearances in the story, and that bitch stayed on the scene for close to a decade, just to make sure that nobody got their happy on too deeply. : (

What began as an educational opportunity for Seth, turned into a path to escape and safety, but that meant that Kelly would have to say goodbye to his beloved Seth.

And with that opportunity came the first separation. Then another, then another, and another. Sweet baby Jesus, I was about to scream, because other than The Big Misunderstanding (blessedly avoided here), the thing I loathe most is prolonged separations.

Yes, I understood that the separations were necessary, but God, that didn't help me enjoy them one tiny bit more.

Luckily, by the time that the first separation happened, Seth and Kelly were firmly and convincingly a couple in my mind, so I never felt as though the years (and years) apart would break them. As far as I was concerned, they were inevitable, but that still didn't make the distance any more enjoyable.

I adored the parts of the story where they would reunite for short periods, but would always dread the ending of those times, when Seth would have to leave again, while Kelly seemed perpetually trapped at home -- even into their mid-twenties.

The book was *RIFE* with angst, folks. Religious persecution, homophobia, bullies, an off-page sexual assault (light on actual details, thank fuck), death, and new additions to the family.

The angst train was a full-on express, with very few stops, but the fact that the story contained so much separation, with less actual dialogue between the MC's that I prefer, that left me feeling as though it was angst at 30,000 feet, with me high above the action, instead of me being down in the trenches as the guys fought and fought for their well-deserved HEA.

The book did finally get there, but OMG, only after ALL of the blood, sweat, and tears had been shed.

The story wasn't quite on par with my gold standard angst story, Amy's "Keeping Promise Rock", but it was still a very solid 4 star read for me, so I'd recommend it, but only to those who are looking for a break from sweet and fluffy, and want to rage for 300+ pages.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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