Monday, August 8, 2016
Starting New by S.C. Wynne
Starting New by S.C. Wynne
Review by Lauren
source: copy for review; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Life hasn’t been good to Francis Murphy. He’s survived twenty-one years of homelessness by hooking and taking handouts where he can find them. When the local shelter is vandalized, he’s forced to seek food at the Grace and Light Church, where he runs into the pastor’s son, Randy.
Randy Wright believes the best in others. He's immediately drawn to Francis, even though Francis is hardened and wary. When Francis is attacked by one of his johns, Randy and his family take him in and offer him temporary work. Randy always thought he was straight, but something about Francis has him yearning for more than just friendship, and realizing he might be bisexual.
Francis is attracted to Randy too, and Randy and his parents say they’ve always believed in gay rights. But talk is cheap. What are the odds that these Christian parents will remain open-minded when it's their own son in a relationship with another man?
Review: Books that deal with religion can be hit or miss for me because I think it's a very personal choice. Even if people identify under the same religion, they don't necessarily believe all the same things or practice in the exact same way. However, I think Wynne did a good job featuring a Christian family in Starting New.
Francis lives on the streets, sleeping with people in order to earn money. He's gay, but he's never had an actual relationship. Sex is just a means to an end for him, most of the time. He does see the pleasure in it though, so when he meets Randy, he's not sure how Randy can see sex the way he does. Growing up Christian, while Randy has slept with a girl, he believes that sex should always mean something and you should have a connection with the person you are sleeping with. He tries not to judge Francis though, because he knows his life and how he didn't have much of a choice. But Francis has one now and Randy is determined to make him change his life for the better.
After Francis gets beaten up, Randy's parents take him in, offering him a place to sleep and food if he helps them rebuild a local homeless shelter. Francis isn't religious, but Randy's parents are true to their word and don't push it on him, despite Randy's father being a pastor at their local church. I appreciated that you could tell how much their religion meant to Randy's family, but that they also knew not to push their beliefs on Francis. Instead, they offered him help and kindness, like anyone should.
It doesn't take too long before Randy begins to develop feelings for Francis, the first guy he's ever felt this way about. His family preaches acceptance, even for those that identify as LGBT+, but it takes Randy back when he thinks he could be gay or bisexual. It made sense to me. You can genuinely be okay with other people but still be upset or concerned if those feelings start to apply to you. It's different, since Randy is an adult now. He always thought he'd marry a girl and have children. As for Francis, he's been drawn to Randy from the beginning, but he doesn't think he's good enough for him. The two definitely have a lot to deal with.
I'd say this was an NA read, as the two boys are 21 years old. It includes sex and other adult moments/topics, but it's also a good coming of age book.