Release Date: May 15, 2019
Received From: Review copy from the author
Tyson Falls is ready to get married. After being disowned by his parents, his adorably grumpy boyfriend has made cautiously optimistic Tyson embrace the concept of family again. Armed with a ring and the newest video game, Tyson has plans for the nerdiest proposal.
Life throws a wrench in Tyson’s plans when he meets someone online during a multiplayer match. Someone that makes him rethink if he’s ready to start a family—the half-sister he never knew he had.
With the harsh reminder of how messy families can be, Tyson plunges headfirst into despair. Phil doesn’t deserve to be dragged into such a terrible bond. As Tyson wades through trauma and tries to push away the concept of family, he keeps turning to the man he loves most—the person who challenges him to redefine family.
SEXUALITY: bisexual, homosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: biromantic, homoromantic
TROPES: age gap, found family
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, existing relationship, ownvoices
WARNINGS: mental abuse, emotional abuse, family, physical abuse, mental illness (depression, anxiety), anti-queer, anti-trans, racism, parental death, alcohol, sexual content, child abuse, parental illness, therapy mention, gaslighting, vomiting mention
As always, Chace Verity’s narrative voice is engaging and the storyline captivating! It was really wonderful to revisit some beloved characters–both Tyson and Phil, but also their friends and family–as well as meet new characters who’d become important to them.
This book is not nearly as lighthearted as TEAM PHISON, and I wasn’t expecting it to be, based on what the author had said about it online and in conversations we’d had. In this book, Tyson struggles with learning a huge secret his father had kept from him for his whole life, and clearly never intended to share, and has to figure out how to adapt to this new information and how it affects his current life. Knowing that, I wasn’t expecting puppies and rainbows, but it was much more difficult–emotionally–than I was anticipating. This time around, the story is solely from Tyson’s point of view, which is what made it hard for me, I think. His narrative is drenched in self-deprecation and self-hatred, which made it physically painful to read. In large part because it’s something that I, and I’m sure many others, can relate to. Poor Tyson is so sweet and lovely, and he’s been hurt so much that it invades practically every thought.
The most difficult part of the novel for me, however, was Tyson’s concept of “family.” As someone who believes very strongly in the idea of “found family,” I struggled a lot with Tyson’s thought process regarding “family,” because according to his thinking for a very large chunk of the book, “family” means your blood relatives and no one else. It made it really painful for me to read the book when he was saying things like, “I won’t propose to Phil because if we don’t get married, we won’t be family.” I just kind of stared at my screen every time he said that, legitimately unable to comprehend. And the scene where he tells Manny, his best friend of many years, that they’re not family made me have to step away from the book for a while because it really broke my heart. Tyson is so smart, but he’s also so incredibly, unbelievably dense. He constantly compares those close to him to his biological family and thinks he has no one, when in reality, he’s got a whole big family outside of his blood relatives. This aspect of the novel actually made it really difficult for me to connect with Tyson for a large part of the story because this mindset kept repelling and pushing me out of the story.
Plus, there’s not really any kind of character growth or development as far as Tyson’s concept of family. Rather, there’s a very abrupt switch. Even up to around 90%, he’s still thinking of “family” as “blood relatives” rather than as the family he’s made with Phil, both of their friend groups, and his newfound sister and her family. Then by the end (less than 10% later), he’s referring to them all as his family. It’s a great turnabout, but there’s basically no build up and no visible change in his thought process, which is strange given the whole book is from his point of view.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and the writing, but I think it just wasn’t For Me as much as Verity’s other books. However, I am looking forward to what they’ve got releasing in the future!
Chace Verity (she/they) is publishing queer as heck stories with a strong romantic focus, although queer friendships and found families are important too. Chace prefers to write fantasy but dabbles in contemporary and historical fiction as well. An American citizen & Canadian permanent resident, Chace will probably never be able to call a gallon of milk a “four-liter.”