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Shirts and Skins

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  107 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
A remarkable debut novel from Jeffrey Luscombe-a compelling series of linked stories of a young man's coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-terms with his family and fate. Josh Moore lives with his family on the 'wrong side' of Hamilton, a gritty industrial city in southwestern Ontario. As a young boy, Josh plots an escape for a better life far from the steel mills that ...more
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published June 1st 2012 by Chelsea Station Editions (first published May 24th 2012)
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Matthew Crehan Higgins
This is a perfectly charming and realistic story tracing a life from age 6 on through adulthood. It is written with precision in the language that takes it so naturally from the early wonderment and optimism of one's early years through the emotional highs and lows of growing up, to finding unexpected contentment in adulthood. While the narrative is largely centered on the main character - Josh - each of the many people in his life - from a lifelong complicated relationship with his father to a ...more
Nathan Burgoine
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt
I have a connection to "Shirts and Skins" that is purely coincidental. For a while, I lived near Hamilton, Ontario (and at times, lived in Hamilton itself). My life in Hamilton was rarely enjoyable, and when my father passed away - in a hospital in Hamilton - the place was cemented in my mind as somewhere I just never wanted to be again.

Connecting with Luscombe's character, Joshua Moore, was therefore immediate and gratifying. By the time Josh is a young adult, he's aware of how much he wants to
Neil Mudde
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting title, and the meaning will become clear as you read the book. I read the book in two sessions, and only because I had to entertain some friends. The story grabbed me right from its first page, when I am introduced to a young Josh, who lives in Hamilton,both his parents work, we meet the aunt,uncle, grandmother and friends,each one a unique character, in a very believable all be it dysfunctional setting,at times I could see cloudy Hamilton and smell the gasses from the steel mill's c ...more
Hunter Jay
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is fresh and honest. I liked Josh in all his stages of life. Would I have been friends with him in all of them? Only at the very end and the very beginning. Our paths would not have crossed in the middle stages, as I was at the opposite end of the spectrum in my teens and twenties. While Josh "avoided" by rebelling, I avoided by complying. The descriptions and insight are spot on. I especially liked the part where Josh described the change in his father; how there was no big red curt ...more
Ken Murphy
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shirts and Skins highlights the life of Josh Moore. The book starts off with the main character as a tiny six year old with asthma, and ends with him in his mid-thirties. We pass through significant chapters in Josh’s life as he grows up physically, mentally, and emotionally – not at the same time. Josh has to overcome several hardships and obstacles, many of which he created for himself. I won’t say too much at the risk of giving up important plot twists. I enjoyed the story even though through ...more
I received this book through GR Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

This book reads like a memoir despite being fiction, covering the life of Joshua Moore from the age of six to his forties.

For a long, long time this book was rather dark and depressing, and there was a lot of drama (which is up my alley, so I liked it immensely, though others may not). It's not all hopeless though, and overall it was a very engaging and interesting read that ended rather neatly. I can't say that I loved
Sep 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: Jeff
This book was a disappointment to me. It is one of the most prolonged coming out stories of all times. And although I certainly know of folks who come out long after they are married and divorced, this protagonist seemed particularly clueless. Plus I think the author chose not to dramatize the more important aha moments in his life.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Honest and real. Josh is a character that you care about throughout all his experiences. I really enjoyed this book and had never read anything like it before. The short story concept within the novel framework moves the narrative forward beautifully and enhances the biography-like quality of the story.
Michael Joseph
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-contemporary
You can find my full review of Shirts and Skins on my web site.
Liz Bugg
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeffrey Luscombe's Shirts and Skins is a strong debut novel. He is particularly successful at bringing to life the 1970's childhood of his main character. I look forward to book number two.
W.S. Long
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gay Literary Reader
Recommended to W.S. by: Author
"Shirts and Skins" is not your typical coming of age, coming out of the closet, gay romance novel.

The novel traces the story of Josh Moore from the days of young childhood, elementary and through adult age, passing through chapters of family life that depicted alcoholism, domestic abuse, bullying, and burying homosexual feelings until adulthood after a failed marriage. Along the way he is a victim of bullying, becomes a bully himself, feels the pang of lust for a close male friend, and has regr
David Hallman
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chronicling the Journey

Jeffrey Luscombe’s first novel “Shirts and Skins” takes us on a journey of a life that has lots of valleys and a few peaks.

Luscombe writes convincing dialogue and much of the novel tracing the first thirty-odd years of the life of Josh, the main character, proceeds through his conversations and frequent arguments with family members. And he does have a colourful family indeed.

Some of the most powerful writing in “Shirts and Skins” occurs as Josh is struggling in his earl
Nancy Silk
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This compelling story is about the life of Joshua Moore, born and raised near Toronto, Canada. At six years of age, he is plagued with asthma and is limited in activities with other children. While his mom struggles to work nights at a local factory, his dad struggles to hold a job; he'd rather drink beer and bet on the ponies. As Josh becomes a teenager, he is more alienated from his dad who now sinks further into mental strain and seldom leaves the house. Josh becomes bitter, he's different fr ...more
Chris Godwaldt
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
At times I was able to fully connect with Luscombe's main character, Josh, identifying myself in the awkwardness of gym classes and early teen same-sex, closeted crushes as well as hetero marriage and a late coming-out. The city scape was familiar and described both the realities and stereotypes of Hamilton, a city I love!

But Luscombe weaves a story that is identifiable for anyone who's ever felt like their life is just unfolding, perhaps not out-of-control, but definitely just in a march to a
Somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars.
Well written and poignent. Very matter of fact in all stages of Josh's life. His childhood scenes felt just like one would thnk as a child--facinating because the way he processed new information was just like I did as a child. Then as he got older the "wrong side of the tracks" was just too depressing so I started to skip. Josh eventually finds out that he is gay and gets his life together.
This is a solid story almost biography of a man. This is not a romance,
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shirts and Skins is a beautifully written, well spun story of growing up. I knew prior to reading that it was a coming of age and coming out story. I just never expected to be taken on such a deeply felt, complete journey.

This is not your typical coming out story. It's about family and self discovery with many twists and turns (and a few hints) along the way.

Richly layered, Jeffrey Luscombe has painted a wonderful landscape of literary heart. A good writer creates characters that you know like g
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recommend Shirts and Skins by Jeffrey Luscombe. I finished reading it this week and can't wait for his new novel. Interesting book about growing up gay (closeted) in blue collar steel mill Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Although the main character turns out to be gay, the story does not focus on that as much as it paints pictures with words of what was like to grow up in a Canadian industrial town in the 70s and 80s. It was fascinating to discover that world through the eyes of the main character f
Cait Gordon
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, and not just because I want to suck up to Jeffrey. ;) He captures the essence of what it means to grow up in that edgy blue collar hood, where you have to act tough as nails, and maybe hide your true self. For me, Josh's being gay did nothing to detract how I related to him, because I did relate to him. He was like someone I grew up with. My friend Josh, who lives down the road. (Of course I will never stop saying that the true message of the story is: everything's better in t ...more
Jean-paul Audouy
Now I'm sure I will never want to live in Hamilton, Ontario! Keenly observed with a nice balance between emotions and lucidity. A coming out story but not only. And seemingly, a thinly veiled autobiography.
Janet Cameron
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, purple
Great story, really well done, especially the 'Skins' chapter. I'll be on the lookout for the next book from this author.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved being inside Josh's head. A really enjoyable read!
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect balance of the poignant, the funny and the absurd, Shirts and Skins is an excellent read. Loved it!
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written and developed story. He uses the technique of a series of short stories beginning with his childhood through his coming out and I enjoyed this format very much.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A story "told" in an interesting way / at different stages of the characters life.
David Wickham
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay
I really liked this book. Josh was a well developed character even though we didn't get every detail of his life. The author gave us enough to really get to know Josh. I recommend this book.
Harry Rice
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much. The writing was exceptional, the descriptions of characters and places vivid, the story interesting and well-developed.
Adam Dunn
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: glbt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Eden
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very moving and entertaining read about a man growing up in my home town. Luscombe has great skill at enumerating the details of life in the 70s and 80s, and this gives the novel such authenticity.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeffrey Luscombe’s debut novel features Josh Moore, who lives with his dysfunctional family in the gritty industrial city of Hamilton, Ontario. At an early age, Josh plans his escape from the oppressive steel-mill culture, and dreams of adventures in far away places, but year after year Josh’s dreams take a backseat while he grows further immersed in the town and society that he abhors.

The novel is a series of well-written short stories, each one a snapshot of a time during Josh Moore’s life. Ev
Gavin Stephenson-Jackman
Jeffrey Luscombe touches many themes in Shirts and Skins. Hamilton has for all of my life been seen as an industrial city even as it continues to transform into a more diverse economy. As such there is evidence of a class struggle between the industrial working lower middle class and the academic/managerial upper middle class. There is the issue of Josh’s native heritage and how that heritage has been lost yet also helps to set him apart from his peers as he grows up. In the course of time Josh ...more
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Jeffrey Luscombe was born and raised in Hamilton, Canada. He holds a BA and MA in English from the University of Toronto and attended The Humber College School for Writers where he was mentored by Nino Ricci and Lauren B. Davis. He has had fiction published in many literary magazines including Zeugma Literary Journal, Filling Station Magazine and Pink Play Magazine. In 2010 Jeffrey was shortlisted ...more
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