‘Shake the Stars’ is a story that starts out as a story about coming of age, coming out, first love. It’s a story that highlights defining moments in a person’s life.
Dane Forrester is 18 he’s about to take that first step into the world that leads to adulthood…college but before he can do that Dane wants to spend his last summer touring Europe. He’s gay and he’s kept himself so far in the closet in his efforts to be the good son that his devoutly Catholic parents want that it’s going to take a rescue team with a really long leadline to help him find his way out. Dane’s also a budding young author with a paralyzing fear of water whose dreams of discovering himself as he wanders around Europe are about to become what he’s very sure will be his nightmare summer with his family at Silver Fir Lodge.
Khalid Novak, is a 20 year old, who works as a lifeguard at Silver Fir Lodge and while he’s seems far more comfortable with who he is, neither Khalid nor Dane are truly prepared for the intense feelings that they stir in each other.
‘Shake the Stars’ covers a time span of just over 10 years and while I’m not usually a fan of big time gaps in stories…let me just say there is one here and while we’re not given a lot of details pertaining to what happened during this time, we are given enough to get the general idea of what events that transpire during this time gap and this is more than sufficient for me since there’s secondary character who appears during this time that I was less than impressed with him. I very much liked both Dane and Khalid and while I admit to feeling tremendous amounts of frustration with them both, in equal measure, I was more than happy for the author to keep the focus of the story on them and if doing that meant having a time gap in the story…than in this case as far as I was concerned the author definitely made a good choice.
While the first half of the story for me was good if not at times a little slow, it was also the part of the story that contained the both Dane and Khalid’s background and the story of how they met without it the last half of the story would not have been nearly as impactful. I’m not a huge fan of YA or NA stories, but I am an absolute sucker for second chance stories and that’s what this leading into. It may have started as a New Adult story but the second half of this book was very solidly a second chance story and a really well done one.
While the first part was ok and I had no problems getting through it when I got to the last half of the story I could not put it down. Khalid and Dane worked as a couple in a lot of ways but I honestly cannot deny the underlying frustration with them that I still have mainly because even though the story is essentially told from Dane’s perspective we are still able to see things from Khalid’s point of view as well and objectively speaking it really came down to the perspective and the reader is very much left to determine
Dane and Khalid’s story actually reminded me of the lyrics from a song from the 80s by Dave Mason that says…
So let’s leave it alone ‘cause we can’t see eye to eye,
There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy.
There’s only you and me, and we just disagree.
As well as a story about two young men falling in love we’re given a story about a young man coming out to his family and while so many of these stories are often portrayed in shades of black or white…in other words their either really bad or over the top with sunshine and goodness, Dane’s is just a little bit different. I loved Dane’s mom in a lot of ways she was one of the most realistic story moms that I’ve encountered in a long time and she was very gutsy, strong and brave in the ways that a mother needs to be.
Then there was Dane’s brother James and that kid…well, damn! He was simply awesome…everyone should have a younger brother like James and last but not least there was Dane’s father and how I felt about him was probably one of the biggest surprises of this whole story for me, so much so that he’s going to get his own paragraph…
Dane’s dad was one of the most emotionally compelling dads I’ve encountered in a while. I can’t really say that I hated him because truthfully I didn’t. I was angry with him at times, definitely disappointed in him and yet throughout it all my heart broke for him. He was a man stranded in limbo…his faith told him one thing, but I believe his heart was telling him something different and in the end he fought an internal battle that many would say should have been easily resolved but sometimes the choice between what our heart tells us is right and we should do, is blurred by what we’ve been told repeatedly and brought up to believe is right and the choice is easier and clearer for some than others.
‘Shake the Stars’ is a story that contains more than it’s share of angst but it also deals with some very emotional issues and provides a lot of thought provoking perceptions all wrapped up in an enjoyable story.
A copy of ‘Shake the Stars’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.