Surprising Myself by Christopher Bram

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Reissued May 28, 2013
Published by Open Road Integrated Media
Review Copy from NetGalley

Let me start by saying this is a great book. It’s great because it’s deep and incredibly thought provoking. It’s also incredibly moving and emotional, and once I was invested I couldn’t give up Joel’s story for anything. At times it was brutally painful to keep going, but that’s exactly what I did.

To say Joel’s upbringing is tumultuous and confusing is an understatement. The early part of the book addresses Joel’s struggle to recognize and come to terms with his sexuality. Through his reunion with Corey, a friend from his time working at Boy Scout camp, he begins to accept himself.

What unfolds is a turbulent tale of love, lies, forgiveness and family dysfunction. I was reminded again and again that it’s human nature to always hurt the ones we love. There were times that my own ability to forgive Joel was tested, I have no idea how Corey managed it. That boy (Corey) is a saint, although not without his own faults. My heart broke for him when Joel’s self-centered and selfish nature caused him pain, and sometimes I even wished he’d walk away.

I found Surprising Myself refreshingly realistic. This isn’t the picture perfect romance with one significant black moment before a warm, fuzzy ending, but a continuous struggle for understanding and grasping at the significance of life. Maybe it’s my own many years of marriage that give me a jaded perspective, but it’s the truth behind phases of relationships that’s evident in this particular story. Relationships are hard. Life is hard. Sometimes you really do need to convince yourself it’s worth it to find the strength to keep going.

Christopher Bram is a new author to me, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to read & review this book. It’s one of five titles being reissued by Open Road today – click here to see the other books included in the reissue. Part of what made this exciting for me is the timeliness of discovering a book with characters that are gay Boy Scouts when the Boy Scouts of America is making landmark decisions regarding allowing homosexual members and leaders. Bram himself has written an essay about his own experience as a gay member of Boy Scouts and how it changed and influenced his life. I think we can learn a lot from his personal experience – I hope you’ll check out what he has to say here.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!

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