Saturday, August 16, 2014

eARC Review: Best Friends Perfect: Book One by Liam Livings

He lives, with his partner and cats, where east London ends and becomes nine-carat-gold- highlights-and-fake-tan-west-Essex. He was born in Hampshire with two club feet (look it up, it’s not nice) and problem ears, needing grommets: this meant he was in plaster from toe to groin until he was two, and had to swim with a cap and olive oil soaked lamb’s wool over his ears - olive oil bought from a health food shop, before it was sold by supermarkets. He started writing when he was 14: sat in French lessons during a French exchange trip, for want of anything better to do, he wrote pen portraits about his French exchange’s teachers. He wrote for his school’s creative writing magazine and still writes a diary every day. He grew up on the edge of the New Forest – not in the New Forest mind, but on the edge. Now it’s a national park, it’s so much more glamorous. He went to uni in London and never really left. When not writing, he also enjoys baking. He avoided any sport at secondary school by having an orthodontist appointment between the age of 14 and 16, and when he was old enough to drive, just drove home instead of playing rugby/hockey/whatever. He is a car geek, his particular passion is old French classics, and his every day car is what is popularly referred to as a ‘hairdressers car’ a Mazda MX5 in powder blue – Muriel.

Best Friends Perfect: Book One
Published June 4th 2014 by Wilde City Press
Available Formats: epub, mobi, html, pdf

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Kieran, 18, comes out to himself then his family by going to a youth group. There he meets Kev, a cross dressing gay man with awful taste in boyfriends and Jo, a grade A drama student, at college and in his real life. Kieran navigates his way through the maze that is being a gay man in the late nineties, with help from his two new best friends, and his two old best friends; Hannah, just coming out too and trying to work out if Steps are Abba for the nineties; Grace a one woman charity shop bargain hunter with encyclopedic pop knowledge.

 Best Friends Perfect is the first book of a trilogy that narrates the life of Kieran as he finds out the different ways to coming out to his family. Advised to just be who and what he is, he does break it to them gently and with the least doubt. Told in a style I am unused to, Kieran brings us along with him as he finds himself living the life of a gay young man. Through his story, we meet his friends and we go along with them on their merry (and not so merry) adventures. Through his words, readers will see the world through Kieran's eyes.

What I found outstanding in this work was how relaxed this tale was written. True, there were heartbreaks that Kieran had to go through but there is no melodrama. His mother's whole attitude was not one for the horror movies either, it was just accepting when she finally got to grips with her son being gay. I think she even enjoyed it at the end of the day. Then there were his friends. This story tells us how Kieran meets them and each one of the friends are lovingly introduced and gradually made our friends too. Each character is very well developed and even if that may sound too detailed, it really is not. Whatever details came out through conversations and short narratives and just gelled naturally. Then there was the period this is set in: the 1990s. I am a late 80s girl so it was really a blast from the past reading this. The author was able to really capture the spirit of that era I miss.

As Kieran tells his story, I found myself just sinking into it - but I did drown a bit for the terms used are so very English and apparently I was not familiar with a lot of them though in the end I learned and got comfortable. It was funny how the words on text translated to an English voice and that made me sit up and take more notice. Hearing the author's voice in his work is not common and it resulted to my 'hearing' Kieran's story rather than just reading it. This is the one aspect of this work that made me love it.

Best Friends is a very different story and quite unexpected. I thought this would be a romance but found out that it really is not. I thought this would be an angst filled story, but laughing at some of the ridiculousness these friends go through clearly shows this definitely is not high drama. It is just a story of life. Period. 

Different. Personal. Intimate.

A great read.

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