Thursday, September 26, 2013

7 Heart Review: Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble and Giveaway!

Just Between Us
J.H. Trumble

Page Count: 320

Release Date: 24 September 2013
Publisher: Kensington
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via tour publicist, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Kensington and Lady Reader's Bookstuff!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Everyone needs someone to trust...

Seventeen-year-old Luke Chesser is trying to forget his spectacular failure of a love life. He practices marching band moves for hours in the hot Texas sun, deals with his disapproving father, and slyly checks out the new band field tech, Curtis Cameron. Before long, Luke is falling harder than he knew he could. And this time, he intends to play it right.

Since testing positive for HIV, Curtis has careened between numbness and fear. Too ashamed to tell anyone, Curtis can't possibly act on his feelings. And Luke—impulsive, funny, and more tempting than he realizes—won't take a hint. Even when Curtis distances himself it backfires, leaving him with no idea how to protect Luke from the truth.

Confronting a sensitive topic with candor and aplomb, acclaimed author J. H. Trumble renders a modern love story as sweet, sharp, and messy as the real thing, where easy answers are elusive, and sometimes the only impossible thing is to walk away.
[Dad] stares up at the night sky again. "I never get tired of looking at the moon. Gravitational pull is a funny thing, isn't it? You can fight it; you can even escape it for a while. But eventually, you have to give in to it."

High school junior Luke Chesser already has a crazy marching band schedule, intense training for drum major tryouts, and a dysfunctional family; the last thing he needs is boy troubles. But Curtis is so cute—and charming to no end—so when he discovers the attraction is mutual, there's no keeping the two apart.

Luke is passionate, determined, and everything Curtis wants, but he's also inexperienced, painfully naïve, and hopelessly romantic, which makes him everything Curtis can't have. When he receives a crippling diagnosis that might as well be his death sentence, he withdraws from the world—in self-pity, self-loathing, and shame—and slowly, painfully cuts himself off from those he loves most—his family and Luke included.

The fact that Trumble chose to write about both HIV and a gay couple in this young adult novel deserves its own category of praise; these are two of the most controversial topics that could appear in children's fiction, and she chose to tackle them simultaneously. Everyone hears about and fears HIV, but it's one of those diseases that "couldn't possibly happen to me," so following Curtis's frightening, completely agonizing journey, was both shocking and completely revealing of how it feels like, on an emotional level, to gradually cease to be a part of this world.

The story and characters are well-developed and very easy to keep up with and enjoy, but the style is rather meticulous, a bit too detail-oriented. For instance, there were entire paragraphs describing the process of cutting down lumber or preparing food, which I found exasperating at times; the superfluous attention to detail often made me want to skim. It's not impossible to get through, however; in fact, Trumble's writing will absorb you directly into the story, as though the lives and loves of each of the characters were your own.

Just Between Us is a powerful account of young love that, even when faced with life-altering obstacles, endures, and how to deal with the things in life we cannot control. I feel like this is kind of a milder, younger audience's version of RENT; think the emotional seclusion of Roger paired with the honeyed tone of David Levithan in this book.


Established visceral tone // Curtis and Luke are perfect for each other // Moving and affecting // Story is easy to follow // I'm curious about Luke's past now (Nate Schaper appears in J.H. Trumble's previous novels, so maybe I'll give them a try!)


Not that strong of a voice // Some parts highly unrealistic or too simple


"What do you want to see at the movies tonight?"

"I want to see you sitting next to me."


Tender and meltingly romantic, Just Between Us is a coming-of age novel that beautifully illustrates what it means to have the strength to accept yourself the way you are and carry on: to survive. By incorporating both HIV and gay youth—two very important, but very reluctant topics in children's literature—into this rocky, but ultimately triumphant love story, J.H. Trumble proves that she is one of the defining voices in gay YA fiction. Fans of the genre won't want to miss out Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable (x)


One lucky reader will get the chance to read Just Between Us, themselves—we have one finished PRINT copy to give away today! Leave a comment on my review for the chance to win. Be sure to leave your email address so I know who to contact when I draw a winner! Only meaningful comments will go into the contest, which means irrelevant comments consisting of only "Thanks for the giveaway" will not count as an entry!!!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher and tour publicist—a huge thank you to Kensington and Lady Reader's Bookstuff Blog Tours!
Giveaway ends October 10th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Check out my sidebar where you'll find a list of giveaways that currently are running internationally—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!