I feel like such a book-blogger failure. The sad truth is that I haven’t read a Y.A. book to review, though I do have the next California Diaries and Double Trouble sitting here calling to me, waiting to be read and reviewed. What can I say? I’ve been lazy.
So I’m just going to review a book that I read recently because I can’t get enough of recommending books to people. You may remember about a year ago, I reviewed a fabulous book called The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second
and loved it. Because I’m a big dork, I looked up all the people who wrote blurbs on the Charlie the Second
book jacket. Which is how I discovered Steve Kluger’s Almost Like Being in Love.
Let me just say that nine times out of ten, I’d hate a book like Almost Like Being in Love. There’s surprisingly little conflict. It’s an unashamed love story. The ending should have made me shudder because I hate when everything is tied up in a nice neat little bow. Also, the author is clearly a baseball fan, given all the little baseball factoids and antecdotes. And I’d like to remind him (and others) that, surprisingly, there is baseball history outside of Boston and New York. Shocking, I know. You’d never know it from ESPN or from books like this where the authors are convinced that anything that happened in baseball that didn’t occur in NY or Boston just isn’t actually a part of baseball history. (Hey, I’m an O’s fan. It sucks to be us for so many reasons right now).
But I forgive this book for all of those faults. Because it’s so fucking charming.
That’s right. It got five stars on Goodreads from me on charm alone. The characters? Charming. The writing style? Charming. The plot? Charming. The book has charm coming out its asshole.
It’s high school in the late seventies when Craig and Travis meet each other. Craig’s an athlete and Travis is…not. Travis is artsy and fairly obviously gay. Craig’s athlete status means he’s NOT obviously gay, though he is secretly so. The two fall in love, the way only teenagers can, and bond over nerdy baseball stats, movies, and a shared studio apartment the summer before starting college.
The two go to separate colleges and sadly lose touch with one another. Fast forward to 1998 with Craig and Travis as adults. Craig is in Saratoga Springs, NY, working as a lawyer, an activist and in a committed relationship for twelve years to a sexy handyman/contractor/hardware store owner. Travis is living in L.A. working as an American History Professor, and trying to sell his book comparing Alexander Hamilton to the Designated Hitter. Travis has been slightly less lucky in love than Craig has. Travis decides that Craig was probably “The One,” and decides to start a journey of locating and trying to reconnect with Craig.
Throughout this journey, we meet an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, including Craig’s partner Clayton. Craig’s law partner and college best friend Charleen, who is unlucky in love. Craig’s favorite client, the eleven year old Noah Kessler trying his hardest to get a reversal of his parents’ custody arrangement so he can live with his dad, Jody Kessler, a former minor league baseball star. On Travis’ end, there’s his roommate Gordo, a screenwriter who the guys have known since their days in high school, and A.J, a waitress Travis meets (and gets bailed out of jail by) in St. Louis who ends up tagging along for the ride to reconnect with Craig.
The best part of this book is the way it’s written. It’s not completely narrative. There are narrative chapters, which are interspersed with letters, articles, memos, journal entries, court documents, etc. that meld together to create this amazing story about the paths these two lives take.
It’s sappy, it’s hokey and it’s so very good. A perfect light summer beach read without being trashy or over the top.
This probably wouldn’t make a good movie, given the way it’s written, but I’m going to cast it anyway. I’m not going to cast the teenage Craig and Travis, because I’m not familiar with a lot of teenage actors.
Adult Craig: Tom Cavanagh.
We know he can play small-town lawyer (Ed)**** and we know he can play stable gay man (Breakfast with Scot). So let’s combine the two and have this guy be our Craig. Bonus points because I will seriously watch ANYTHING with Tom Cavanagh in it. (Anyone else remember Love Monkey? Didn’t think so.)
Adult Travis: Justin Kirk.
I think Justin Kirk pretty much personifies Travis, especially given how well he plays the quirky Andy Botwin (Weeds) and the fact that he’s a good gay actor (Angels in America. Love! Valor! Compassion!) Justin Kirk has the right combo of personality and charm to pull off Travis.
Clayton: John Barrowman.
Just because….yeah. I like to look at him. Oh and also, he can play a smoldering omnisexual time agent, (Torchwood) so why not a gay contractor/handyman?
Sam Trammell. Mostly because I think he looks like a minor league ball player, though he may be a bit young for the role.
Toni Colette. She’d bring the right amount of no-nonsense attitude coupled with personal vulnerabilities that make everyone like her. Even if they don’t like like her.
Nick Frost. This Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz actor just looks like a guy named Gordo, doesn’t he?
Aisha Tyler. Let’s face it folks, Aisha Tyler is cute and funny as hell and she needs to be in more things.
***Who’d like to join me in harassing NBC to release Ed on DVD? I’ve actually emailed them several times before with no response. Bastards.