Look Away Silence by Edward C. Patterson
I bought this novel with a lot of doubt. I had already read part of the sample and knew where it was going. I lost friends during the plague years and cried enough tears. Did I really want to read about it? But I wanted to know what happened to Martin Powers. Edward Patterson did a marvelous job of making the reader like this vulnerable young man, so I had to read it.
Look Away Silence is the story of Martin Powers who works at the men's wear counter of a large New Jersey department store. He's a bit frivolous and flighty, changing lovers not lightly but regularly. Then he meets Matthew, a Texan who steals his heart when he agrees to buy the ugliest and most expensive tie in the store as a Christmas gift. But for Martin, the real gift is Matthew.
They build a circle of friends and a life filled with travel and mutual joy. Written with acerbic, rather raunchy wit, the novel has a wonderful cast of varied supporting characters from Matthew's tough but loving parents, to lesbian friends, to Russ whose lightheartedness turns to bitterness. Their romance is sweet, but from the first, there are signs of trouble as Matthew grieves for his lover who died--apparently from a gay bashing. However, the problems go deeper than a dead lover, and Martin has to deal with Matthew's dishonesty and his own very real fears for himself.
What makes this book special isn't so much the plot as the love between Martin and Matthew and between the two of them and their respective families and friends. This love grows and changes over time as they work their way through joy and even more pain and eventually to the theme of the novel: that love is a not a Christmas gift wrapped in striped paper and a bow, but a journey of self-discovery and the courage to face loss.
I could not put the book down until I finished it. Yes, it made me cry which is something that I can say about few novels.
I recommend it highly.