Jeff Erno's Reviews > The Year of Ice

The Year of Ice by Brian Malloy
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's review
Sep 03, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: gay-fiction
Read in October, 2009

Kevin Doyle is an eighteen year old high school senior from Minneapolis. It is 1978, and Kevin lives at home with his widowed father. Kevin's mother died two years prior in a tragic automobile accident when her car hit a patch of ice and careened off the highway over an embankment into the Mississippi River.

Kevin has a secret which he shares with no one except his imaginary boyfriend Jon. Actually Jon is a real person that goes to school with Kevin, but the real Jon is straight. So Kevin goes to bed every night with Jon's imaginary gay alter ego. It is Kevin's sexual orientation which is the secret.

Kevin's family is full of secrets. When he discovers that his father was embroiled in an ongoing extramarital affair at the time of his mother's death, Kevin is left wondering if it was really an accident. He fears she may have committed suicide when she learned her husband was planning to leave her.

From the very first paragraph of this novel, I knew that I was going to love this writer. His ability to describe rather mundane situations in such a colorful and hilarious manner is beyond remarkable. He skillfully assumes the voice of the central character, employing a vernacular that is humorous and poignantly real.

In my view the book is not without weaknesses, however. Paramount among them is the stagnant plot. I kept waiting for something spectacular to happen. Something amazing and earth-shattering, but there was no climax. The central character was believable, lovable, and very readable...but he failed to take any action. I wanted a romance or at the very least a grand coming-out moment. There were none.

Several sub-plots emerged within the story, and I yearned for resolution. The reader is left wondering what happened, and perhaps this is the author's point. Obviously he wanted his readers to draw their own conclusions. In this sense, the book felt more like a memoir than a fictional novel.

Overall, I found the book to be a fascinating read. I love this writer's voice, and I'm craving more. A sequel would be wonderful, for then we would learn what actually happened.

The Year of Ice is a welcome addition to my GLBT library. I definitely recommend it.
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10/06/2009 page 102
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