Dana reviews A Fine Bromance by Christoper Hawthorne Moss (Published by Harmony Ink Press, August 11, 2016, 180 pages) A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: The obvious reason I picked this book is that it had a trans character in it and we are having a Trans Aware Event going on to show our support for that particular letter of the LGBTQIA rainbow. The second was that it had a mystery and I enjoy those. It wasn’t clear if this was a romance or a story of friendship when I picked it up but I was curious to find out.
Robby is a senior in high school when he meets new student Andy. Robby’s never experienced sexual attraction, and while that doesn’t change, something about Andy makes him feel relaxed, and it turns out they have a lot in common. Neither of them fits in very well, and Robby soon learns through the school’s bullies that Andy is a transboy. Sticking together makes life better for both of them.
Then some of Robby’s Aunt Ivy’s jewelry turns up missing, and Robby and Andy must investigate to discover who’s to blame.
One of the reasons I picked this book was the mystery that is hinted at in the blurb. I was slightly disappointed that the mystery didn’t feature as much as I thought it would. Robby’s aunt used to teach history and her home has become almost a museum of historical items and kitsch. Some things are worth nothing but others are and items of her collection are disappearing, mostly returned, but not all. I love Robby’s Aunt Ivy because despite her quirkiness she really seems to care about Robby and she is accepting and kind to him and his friend Andy. She is also very full of information. (A fun fact: Aunt Ivy talks about some famous trans men throughout history and one of the names she mentions is featured in a historical museum near my town. I just love when I can relate personally to something in a book.) Though there isn’t a whole lot of sleuthing going on, the boys do catch the thief/borrower. What I enjoyed most were the interactions between Aunt Ivy and the boys and discovering some of the items she has in her house.
Andy is an FTM senior at a new high school. He is trying to get away from those who knew him as a female and might give him trouble. Only thing is somehow everyone at the new school seems to know his secret. And, yes, there is bullying. I love that Robby is very accepting right from the moment the rumors reach him and when Andy slips up on his own gender identity. There was a bit of confusion and anger on my part. The confusion that Andy did refer to himself as female, as did his mom and Robby later in the book. I suppose that since he is fairly young and early on in the coming out process that mistakes might be made. They just seemed like big slips to me. The anger I experienced was not just because of the bullying and assault of Andy’s character. I was really upset with Robby’s sister who should respect her brother’s friend by at least not calling him a her throughout the book only to turn around and defend Andy like she was always on his side. It’s not that it makes the book unrealistic or unreadable, but I was peeved at the characters at times.
Besides the transgender aspect of the book, we get to see another letter get explored as well. Robby has been struggling for a few years, himself, when he finds that he doesn’t really feel attracted to anyone – girl or guy. He’s not really aware of what it means to be asexual at first and through some learning he does in the book, he discovers who he is. And even though he isn’t racing to get into bed with Andy, he is attracted to his personality and wants to see what can happen for them. The declarations of love on Robby and Andy’s parts were a little quick for me. I know for young people emotions build fast, but my gripe is that while Robby was telling Andy he loved him, he was kissing a gay friend to try and discover his own sexuality.
I know I complained about a few things, but I really did enjoy the story. It was an easy to read book. Some of the flightiness of the characters might just be down to their ages. I liked the epilogue of the book, where things wrapped up and we could see that there was a future for these two characters that are different from the usual pairings in most LGBT romances. I would recommend it, especially to those who like history and those who want to learn more about what it means to be transgender or asexual.
8/10 Pots of Gold (80% Recommended) – Compares to 4/5 Stars
I am a gay transman chock full of stories from history, with a transgender knight, a gay riverboat gambler, you name it. I love how history can lend so many possibilities and at the same time give us a background for our own lives.
I grew up in California, Alaska and Chicago as Nanette Haas always a writer. I wrote my first short story at seven, and in my early teens began the stories with a friend that ultimately became AN INVOLUNTARY KING, my first novel. I married in my late twenties, but later discovered I am transgender. That’s when I became Christopher Hawthorne Moss, otherwise known as Kit. Interestingly, my husband Jim stayed with me and we have now been together over thirty years.
I’ve written all my life, and I have always loved historical fiction, so you will find my stories take place in all eras and locations. I believe that gay and transgender people have always been among us and that it is up to me as an author to make their lives realistic and, where possible, positive and rewarding. It is my job to make it credible. I think with my characters you will find much to identify with. I hope you do.