Posted in Book Reviews, Queer Reads

Book Review: Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble

Seventeen-year-old Luke Chesser is trying to forget his spectacular failure of a love life. He practices marching band moves for hours in the hot Texas sun, deals with his disapproving father, and slyly checks out the new band field tech, Curtis Cameron. Before long, Luke is falling harder than he knew he could. And this time, he intends to play it right.

Since testing positive for HIV, Curtis has careened between numbness and fear. Too ashamed to tell anyone, Curtis can’t possibly act on his feelings. And Luke–impulsive, funny, and more tempting than he realizes–won’t take a hint. Even when Curtis distances himself it backfires, leaving him with no idea how to protect Luke from the truth.

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How I Found This Book

I had heard of this one from some book blogs I follow, but I found a marked up copy at Powell’s in Portland, OR and I just had to pick it up!

Overall Feeling

Overall, it was pretty okay. I’ll be honest in that I was wowed by any means but I definitely enjoyed reading it and was glad I had picked it up. The story was very rushed however, which is something that I didn’t enjoy at all. I felt like we didn’t get enough in terms of character development. However, the story overall was such a good one, and I felt had a lot of realism to it. Obviously, every person’s reaction to HIV is different, but everything Trumble portrayed here made sense and felt very realistic.

Cons

Like I said, the story was just so rushed. I feel like we didn’t actually get to process the character’s emotions in the story, but rather we were just told that they’d grown. For instance, Luke says some terrible stuff to Curtis at one point, and then like two chapters later, he says he’s in love with Curtis. But we don’t get to see his process of going from anger to love. Honestly, the fact that they loved each other was such a stretch to me, because I saw nothing in there that could have lead them to those feelings that quickly. Trumble jumped ahead weeks at a time, with nothing more than “They texted that week.” It made it hard for me to actually like Luke to be honest. I also HATED how we never really saw Curtis coming to terms with his status. Just all of a sudden in the last chapter he was fine with it and ready to date and love.

I did also find the cover a little odd. From what I understand Luke is featured in one of Trumble’s other books, so maybe it makes more sense if you read that one, but I just did not understand why he’s wearing headphones on the cover… At least I think that’s supposed to be Luke. But I cannot remember them ever talking about listening to music, only the band stuff. It just seemed strange…

Pros

Well first I will always love a good story about HIV and how it doesn’t have to mean the end of your life. So automatically Trumble gets points from me for writing this story. Also, like I said earlier, I do think the reactions were very realistic, especially from Curtis. Having to deal with that diagnosis, not being able to tell his family, feeling like he didn’t deserve love or that he was gonna ruin Luke’s life were all so real and really well written. I do still hate that we don’t get WHY he came to terms, but I’m glad that Trumble also showed that part of the story. I’m also glad she showed the experience of how Curtis’ roommate’s mom handled his diagnosis. Reactions like that are still prevalent today unfortunately.

Diversity? (Possible Spoilers)

Queer characters, character with HIV

Trigger Warnings (Possible Spoilers)

Minor descriptions of violence, mentions of depression.

Quotes

I’m as bound to him as the moon is to the earth. He keeps me in orbit; and maybe I do the same for him.

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Author:

Robin spends most of his time running a certified rape crisis center. In his off hours he uses reading as a way to recharge and re-energize.

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