Focus on Me
Author: Megan Erickson
Genre: Romance, m/m
Synopsis: Colin Hartman can now add college to his
list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin
stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing
the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When
he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.
only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon.
But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves
tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes
that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the
man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he
needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option… from Megan Erickson
Thoughts: There will be spoilers in this review. I highly recommend the book but make sure you have a good supply of tissues handy, you are going to need them. Stop reading now if you do not want spoilers. (Don't worry I don't think it is a MAJOR spoiler, you'll get the spoiler fairly early on if you pay attention).
This book comes with a four kleenex box warning (five Kleenex box warnings are for character death). I could not put it down, despite the tears running down my face. I had to find out what happened. Although I knew, because of the genre that things would be okay, I still had no idea how things were going to get there. Part of the reason this book hit me so hard is because it is a very personal subject. Riley suffers from depression, a very serious depression and this is something I have dealt with myself. For me the Kleenex were needed because I could see myself in Riley. I really felt the pain that Riley felt. The not feeling. The numbness and wishing that you could feel. Ericksson perfectly captured those feelings and that hit me very hard.
As deeply as I felt Riley's feelings, Riley isn't actually the narrator of most of the story and that is another stroke of genius from Erickson. Most of the story is told by Colin and therefore it also becomes a story of what depression does to those who love a person with depression. This perspective is less familiar to me but again the book really captures the feelings that others have told me about. When I was getting better from my depression my mom asked me if there was anything she and my dad could have done differently. I told her no. They loved me and that was enough. But I could see (and I can understand) that this didn't feel like enough. And this is the feeling I get from Colin as well. Intellectually he knows what he has done is enough but it still does not FEEL like enough.
Although I have already mentioned the narrative structure of this novel I want to talk about it some more since it was one of my favourite aspects of the book. The book opens with an e-mail from one man to another (if you have read Trust the Focus you will recognize the writer). That is the only time we are given this persons "voice". The rest of the story is told by Colin as the story unfolds and through e-mails from Riley. We never get to see the replies to Riley's e-mails, although they refer to answers to previous messages. The e-mail sections are much shorter than Colin's sections and this means that the story unfolds quite slowly, and you find things out pretty much at the same pace as Colin. You sort of have to guess at the coming conflict. For me this lent a certain mystery to the story that I really enjoyed.
Overall, although this was a though book to read it is a book I highly recommend.
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