Last year I wrote about what became one of my favorite books, not just for 2011, but of all time (so far). That book was J.H. Trumble’s Don’t Let Me Go, a fantastic work of gay YA fiction. This past December saw the release of her second book, Where You Are. And folks, J.H. has done it again.
While not a sequel to DLMG, Where You Are picks up shortly after the events of that book and are connected by one of the minor characters, Luke (for those interested, the yet-to-be-released third book looks to bridge DLMG and WYA together with his story).
We first meet Andrew, a 24 year old high school math teacher facing all the trials of being an educator and father to a 2 year old, and Robert, his senior student dealing with his unaffectionate boyfriend and the impending death of the father he resents, thanks to the brain cancer that has left him all but a vegetable. It is through the strain on Robert’s family life brought on by the dying father who may never have loved him that he forms a bond with Andrew, his not-so-secretly gay math teacher. But their innocent friendship doesn’t stay that way long and the two find themselves in a dangerous game of romance and potentially perilous scandal.
Where You Are weaves a beautiful tale of love in the face of adversity from all sides, whether it’s in the form of Andrew’s deceptive ex-wife, Robert’s meddlesome aunts, students with a vendetta or the constant threat of a public shaming and imprisonment should Andrew be found out.
While at it’s core a love story, WYA is also a cautionary tale of what can happen when the sacred roles of student and teacher are broken and passion takes over. In the eyes of society there can never been a reason good enough for a person to break the role of educator and become romantically involved with a student, no matter their age or level of consent and J.H. does a fantastic job conveying that fear of discovery to the reader. Though we root for Andrew and Robert to be together, the fear that they may be found out lurks around every (page) turn. Could someone have seen them? Do the other teachers know? If the people they trust found out, would they expose the two? It’s that desire for their love to succeed and the worry that it will all fall apart that kept me turning the page well past my bedtime night after night.
Where You Are is without a doubt the best book I’ve read in quite some time, and the first in months to keep me so enthralled that I couldn’t help but finish it (my lack of updates and miserable failure at reaching my 2012 reading goal is proof enough of that). While I’m not in love with this book as much I am with Don’t Let Me Go, it was still a fantastic read and one which I wish I had committed to sooner (my usual song and dance), especially since my friend Joshua Ardon over at The Get Under Guy reviewed an advance copy and my friend Rob won copies of both books weeks before I had a chance to start it. Although, Rob did make it up to me by giving me the best Christmas gifts: autographed copies of both DLMG and WYA. (Thanks Rob and J.H.!)
Where You Are now takes its place among my top recommended reading list with a solid 4 out of 5, where I hope it will soon be joined by Trumble’s third novel, Just Between Us. Don’t keep us waiting long, publisher!