ABOUT THE BOOK:
With his ten-year high school reunion approaching, Harold wonders whether Mario will be as muscular, sexy, and tantalizing as he remembers. As a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again, will the old flame reignite, setting Harold’s comfortable life ablaze? How can Harold be happy with Stuart when he is still infatuated with his Adonis, his first love, Mario? Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.
Mario and Harold’s story is one to which I think most readers can relate. Who doesn’t look back at life and wonder “what if?” What if I’d done this, gone here, done that…but in this case, it’s more like what if Mario and Harold had met at a different time, under different circumstances? Would things have turned out differently for them?
For Harold, Mario’s sort of like the one that got away; he thinks of him often and does wonder what if. I like how Cosentino introduces the story in a familiar, almost conspiratorial tone, as if Harold’s letting us in on a secret. One obviously shared by his husband Stuart, since he offers some quips and input as well. By setting the story in present day then flashing back, Cosentino also sets our expectations by showing us the outcome first. Regardless how steamy and intense things could be between Harold and Mario, we know Harold will end up with Stuart, so this story is more about the journey getting there. And what a journey that is.
In this short story, Cosentino manages to touch on several sensitive issues – domestic violence, homophobia, hate crimes, suicide, just to name a few. Some of these are pretty heavy topics, and the way the characters handle them isn’t always appropriate although they are realistic. Cosentino also blends in a very subtle political agenda, mentioning a few hot button, lgbt topics of the day. They’re very subtle nuances, so pay attention! You’ll see them in everything from school groups to casual political party references.
For me this is a story of empowerment and being true to yourself. Harold’s story encourages us to be strong and honest about what we want despite how tough that may be. Something Harold’s friend Hannah says really stuck with me – she explains to him that while high school is basically hell for nerds and outcasts like them, their time will come. It’s so true for all of us. We have moments to shine and times when we feel like we’ll barely survive. I’d like to believe that everyone’s best time will come if we’re just patient. For some that peak happens sooner than others, but we’re all worthy of happiness and success.
RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!