Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: Back to You by Chris Scully

Back to You
Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.

Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.

As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.

Jewel's rating:

"The truth is a funny thing. Everyone claims to want it, but most of us spend our lives hiding from it. We see what we want to see, who we want to see, because it’s easier. We delude ourselves."

Back to You isn't exactly a romance. There are romantic elements, but mostly it is the story of Alex finally getting some closure and learning that that past may make us who we are in the present, but it doesn't have to dictate who we are in the future. It is told entirely from Alex's POV.

Alex, who is a journalist living in New York, has come back to his home town because his estranged father is dying. But while that was the catalyst for him going back, the only real reason he agreed was to see Ben again. Ben, his best friend when he was a kid. Ben, who is the missing piece to Alex's puzzle. Ben, the friend Alex feels he abandoned. For twenty years, Alex has keep his emotional distance from everyone and he fears that he's not up for the task of a real relationship, but he's still drawn to the boy he once knew.

Ben is still in that sleepy Canadian town and he's mostly content, but he is shaped by the disappearance of his sister when he was a kid and the fact that his mother pretty much forgot he existed. He teaches art and he lives by himself, while his mother keeps her house a shrine for the daughter that went missing twenty years before. Ben's a quiet guy. Reserved. Observant. Seeing Alex again stirred up feeling that Ben has tried like hell to let go of, but he can't help himself when faced with another chance to know his friend. Even if it breaks his heart all over again.

The focus of the story becomes Ben's missing sister and finding out what happened to her. And interspersed in that story are pieces of an article that Alex is writing about his relationship with his dad. I really enjoyed reading those pieces. They gave insight into Alex and the uncertainty he has had to live with. They show the loneliness he felt.

I enjoyed reading Back to You and I loved how it was written, though I would have loved to have gotten Ben's POV, too. He was a bit of an enigma, since the romance was more muted in the story. Still, I found Back to You to be a very touching story. It was sad and full of regret, but it did end on a note of hope.


Review copy of Back to You was generously provided by the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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