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Tristant Whitfield has had a secret crush on straight Elijah Cambridge since the start of high school. He’s okay keeping his distance, but when Elijah starts visiting him at work and bringing his favorite coffee, Tristant begins to wonder if there’s something more there.
Then Elijah uncovers a scandalous old letter from Tristant’s great uncle tucked away in a book, and the two boys begin a journey through journals and letters to discover the real Uncle Glenn and the secrets he hid from his family. And Tristant realizes that Elijah has been hiding something as well.
A secret that just might change everything.
Tristant and Elijah is a good young-adult-coming-of-age story from new-to-me author, Jennifer Lavoie. It deals with the fear and anxiety of coming out to the people who know you but without too much drama and angst.
Tristant is an out teenager – however, his crush, Elijah, is not. Elijah wants to, but he still feels worried about doing so. It might feel anti-climactic when Elijah’s fears turn out to be unnecessary, but at the same time I can appreciate his coming out not being an issue. Somehow I feel like it gives a positive message to GLBT teens out there, that their closest people can welcome them with open hands.
I really liked the two characters. Tristant is confident of himself and his sexuality, even if he claims he doesn’t have many friends and spends more time with his books. However, I never find him being bullied or alienated by others – Tristant is doing fine on his own. Plus he has an amazing support system: his mother and grandmother. Tristant’s relationship with the two female characters is amazing. The love between the three of them shines throughout the book, even if Tristant says that his grandmother needs time to adjust to her only grandson being gay.
Elijah, the love interest, is also a good character. He sounds like one of the typical cool kids hanging with other popular kids – but Elijah hides his fears of telling people about his sexuality. He admires Tristant for this and somehow being with Tristant – and reading the journal of Tristant’s great uncle – gives Elijah courage to take step by step towards coming out. I found Elijah’s struggle endearing and I loved that while he was in the closet, he never really pushed Tristant away or pretended like he didn’t acknowledge Tristant at school (which usually is a basis for drama).
So the Tristant and Elijah’s part of the story is pretty clean (oh, and this being young-adult, there are no explicit sex scenes, only a couple of kisses). Meanwhile, the ‘secondary’ story (or story within a story) about Uncle Glenn and his own journey of being a homosexual in the early 1900s feels predictable – but considering the time period, it also feels true. I must admit that while the story is heart-breaking, I don’t feel as connected or touched by Glenn’s story as I expected to be. Maybe because the way the letters are written? I don’t know, I can’t really explain.
So yes, I like this quite a lot and I can recommend this to young-adult fans out there…