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Boy: A Journey

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Luke may never have been close to his father, but he feels like he knew him. Jay was a frustrating parent – always urging Luke to go to mortuary school, disapproving of his Broadway aspirations, and favoring his other children. He even had the audacity to die mid-argument, forcing additional guilt on Luke for never meeting his expectations.

However, Luke’s assumptions about Jay are thrown into turmoil at the funeral when an enigmatic stranger, Tom, expresses gratitude that Jay finally shared his past with his children. When Luke can’t hide his confusion, Tom realizes his mistake and bolts. Riddled with questions, Luke confronts his family. He is shocked to discover that everyone guards the truth that Jay was a transgender man who’d been raised as a female. Practiced at keeping his father’s secrets, they’re unwilling to reveal anything further at Luke’s demand. Devastated by Jay’s lack of trust in him, Luke feels forced to abandon the family who deceived him although leaving them behind won’t answer his questions.

To discover the reason his father hid his gender identity, Luke seeks the only other person with answers, Tom. In Luke’s eyes, he is owed an explanation, even if it’s a difficult one. However, Tom harbors a deep protective devotion to Jay, a loyalty he feels the truth would betray. Additionally, as a man suffering with terminal cancer, he has no desire to drudge up painful memories by playing Luke’s Virgil. Luke must earn his trust before the secret past of both men dies with Tom.

163 pages, ebook

First published December 14, 2016

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James Stryker

5 books11 followers

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 reviews
Profile Image for Cheryl.
552 reviews12 followers
December 26, 2016
Copy received from author via Indigo Marketing and Design, in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not sure I can put together the words for this review which can do this book justice. I am completely blown away by the way JS conveys the depth of emotion and the complexity of the human mind, not of just our main character Luke but of all the characters who play a part in this story. It had a grip on my heart from the very beginning.

Luke is 26 and has stayed away from home, for more than a year, doing what he loves - being on stage and performing music. Believing that he is a disappointment to his father whilst also knowing that he is capable of having achieved so more, has kept him from keeping in touch with his family and prolonged his time away, so when Luke finally decides it’s time to head home, he is angered by the fact that his twin sister has not come to meet him at the airport but has allowed his father to take her place. Their journey from the airport ends not only in tragedy but also leads to the unraveling of details about his father which leaves Luke feeling betrayed, alone and like he never knew the man at all. His mother doesn’t want to answer his questions, his sister admits she knew all along and he hates his sister’s husband, Jake, for being the son that he believes his father really wanted.

While Luke’s behaviour was at times, a little childish, I fully understood why he felt the way he did and could see how all the conversations with his father, had been interpreted by him the way they were. It seems that Tom is the last resort for the answers to all his questions and although initially reluctant to provide him the truth, the two strike up a close bond and the man puts a different spin on the advice Luke received from his father.

This is a very poignant tale which doesn’t shy away from the subjects of death and terminal illness, the way it impacts everyone involved in different ways and how they deal with it.

It is far from light hearted, it doesn’t exactly have a happily ever after, it’s gritty and real and gave me some serious food for thought but it does end with Luke’s emotional journey from boy to man as he deals with all life throws at him and brings him a sense of understanding and closure. I loved this book and I know it is one that will stay in my head for a long time to come.
Profile Image for Stacey Jo.
627 reviews202 followers
January 2, 2017
I received a copy from the author via Indigo Marketing and Design, in exchange for an honest review.

This is a very deep story that is very thought provoking. It’s not at all light hearted and especially not for the faint of heart. It’s sometimes a tad graphic in the details regarding death. Suicide, or the contemplation of suicide, is one of the topics, so readers should be aware of that if it���s something they might have a problem reading about. You’ll find yourself running through a lot of emotions with this book. The writing is phenomenal and the characters are very real. Their loss is palpable. Luke deals with the horror of losing his father right in front of him, and then betrayal when he learns his father was a transgender man and he was apparently the only one who didn’t know. Luke has a whole host of issues already that he’s dealing with: guilt, insecurity, and anger to name just a few. When Luke seeks out Tom, his father’s long time close friend, he finally gets the answers he’s been seeking about his father. But Tom’s life is unraveling with his own problems and over the loss of Jay, Luke’s dad. Tom and Luke find what they need in each other to heal. No, I don’t mean a romance because this is not a romance. But thanks to Tom, Luke starts the story as a bratty, angry, and insecure guy but grows into a caring, mature, and likable man. It’s probably one of the best stories I’ve seen that shows fantastic character development. It’s raw and doesn’t pull and punches. It’s very true to life and not at all like the usual fluff. I recommend it to anyone wanting a real story guaranteed to have a profound and meaningful effect on them.
Profile Image for Becky Condit.
2,377 reviews69 followers
February 6, 2017
This may be one of the most difficult reviews I’ve ever written, partly because it was not an easy book to read, but also because I want to do justice to a masterful piece of literature.
In this book we encounter deep sorrow, grief no one should ever have to encounter, jealousy, paranoia on a substantial scale, and secrets kept for too long. Let me introduce the main characters: Luke and Beau are twin brother and sister. Their parents are Jay, a mortician, and Jackie. Beau is married to Jake (aka Ginger), who is also a mortician. Tom is Jay’s best friend from childhood.
Jay is tragically killed at the beginning of the story and much of the book revolves around Jay’s funeral and secrets that are revealed to and by various family members. Luke has returned home from a year in New York, trying to be a success on Broadway, and is the witness to his father’s death. The rift between father and son is therefore never healed; Jay dies too soon.
This is a dark tragedy, written as a mystery. There really is no mystery, but since the past is revealed in bits and pieces, by various people, it reads as a mystery. Luke is the only one who doesn’t know any of the puzzle. Each family member and Tom know some of the story but it is up to Luke to put it all together. What drives a wedge between Luke and the family is the fact that everything has been kept from him for his entire life. Even his beloved twin sister holds important parts of the truth, and this is the knife that cuts most deeply. The hatred Luke holds for his brother-in-law is born from jealousy and paranoia, and may be too much damage to ever heal.
Tom knows everything, but sadly, Tom is dying. Will Luke get the information he so desperately wants before Tom’s death? If Tom dies, will everything Luke needs to know disappear with Tom? I am so afraid of giving away spoilers I don’t want to tell more.
A beautifully written book, highly recommended, but bring tissues.
Profile Image for Steven.
22 reviews
February 18, 2019
This is a great story, and a good read. Mr Stryker's writing is articulate, perceptive and insightful. I enjoyed how the plot jumps from past to present. I think this is a perceptive way of telling a story, but I had to pay attention to understand what was happening. I did struggle to find liking for Beau, and I felt her and Luke's sudden "ah ha!" moments were a bit sudden and contrived.
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