Saturday, August 6, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Once in a Lifetime by Ariel Tachna

Release Date: July 8th, 2011
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Page Count: 182
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Offered a yearlong medical research fellowship in France, Shane Johnson has many hopes for the experience: a chance to improve his French, an opportunity to hone his research skills before starting his PhD at Baylor, and the freedom to live life as an openly gay man for the first time. He'll chronicle his year abroad with its challenges, victories, and setbacks as he struggles to balance his faith with his sexuality.

As he navigates the shoals of a first kiss, a first relationship, and perhaps even lasting love, Shane will have to balance his newfound emotions with his long-term plans, and he'll face the decision of how his once-in-a-lifetime experience will fit into the life he wants to lead.

What Stephanie Thinks: This gay romance is unlike anything I've read before. I could almost classify it as Young Adult because it is a coming-of-age story that introduces heart-pounding firsts and nostalgic lasts. It's an extremely intimate journal that accounts Shane's overseas life—one that is an unpredictable adventure, always.

Shane, even in his private journal, sounds
insecure; there are lots of "I guess"es and "I think"s in his writing that, while I personally find annoying, actually serve as powerful characterization, showing how unsure of his sexuality and how socially vulnerable he is. His innocence makes me feel really protective him, like I want to shield him from the inevitable heartbreak he will experience. But I'm also very proud of him by the end of the story, of how cooperatively he learns his life's lessons and how he accepts who he truly is and what his heart truly wants.

Tachna details the beauty and breathtakingness of France well. A lot can happen in a year—so much, that one's entire life can change—and this warm novel, told by the young, inexperienced voice of an uncertain gay student, speaks loudly about the journey of self-discovery. Sometimes, new environments are just what we need to really feel that sort of realization, and this is demonstrated by the lovable Shane as he describes his gay lifestyle and longing, making the book much more than a romance.

Stephanie Loves: "He didn't answer me then because he was afraid it was the wine talking, not my heart, and that I didn't know what I was saying or that I'd regret saying it in the morning.
The only thing I regret is being blind for so long."

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥