I loved this book. I mean, LOVED. And I can’t, for my life, narrow down exactly why.
It begins with Ben Jimmer, a famous British soccer player, waking up from a night of celebrating and drinking and drinking and drinking, and apparently spending some real quality time at a gay bar and outing himself to a journalist.
His agent, also a gay man, suggests that one way to lessen the tension in the locker room is for Ben to say that he has been in a committed relationship for a while and is not interested in any of his teammates. And so he begins to pretend to date Henry Brown and to act like they are in love.
But life is complicated and, while not in first person, Zetand tells the story ONLY from Ben’s perspective (and the WAY in which it is written is just so…authentic and honest and I just love it, though I imagine not everyone will). Ben has never dated a man and is so thrilled to be able to be out in public. It also turns out, he just likes Henry. And is unsure if Henry like likes him back. And so they do this frustrating dance of kisses, misunderstandings, jealousy, and falling in love.
All of it feels real.
Here is a scene after Ben hosts a big party at his house:
The last cab with party guests leaves at around six, the sun already coming up, and Henry switches the music off just as Ben returns into the house. The silence that follows is abrupt and poignant, like a bungee jumper poised on the edge of a cliff. Which might not make any sense at all. Ben’s brain feels as if someone had crossed a couple of wires.
He enters the living room to find Henry picking up stray plastic cups from the floor, and Ben walks towards him and doesn’t stop, not until he’s up in Henry’s space.
They get each other off on the floor, in between empty bottles and crisp crumbs, with Henry’s finger forming a tight circle around the rope tattooed into Ben’s wrist, holding him down as they grind against each other.
Am I using you? Ben thinks and doesn’t ask.
He comes with his eyes shut tightly and the new day casting stripes of sunlight on the floor.
If anything is wrong with this book, it’s too long. There is so much build up. But also, damn if I didn’t want it to go on forever. So, while I was impatient for the happily ever after, I also was sad when it ended. So it goes.