Nerine Petros's Reviews > The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door by Kate McMurray
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's review
Jan 31, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed
Read from January 31 to March 21, 2011

The Boy Next Door is a story based on childhood fantasy. Those love stories or wishful thoughts we have either heard about or felt towards that special someone, but never had the guts to do anything about. It's about acknowledging and facing the past that we may have left behind but could never quite outrun, and finally facing truth.

Lowell feels almost resigned to the next stage of his life. The one where he returns to a previous phase and revisits those haunts of his childhood home, along with the sweet, memorable and often-times painful, memories that go along with this. But this isn't all of it, because once I moved past his reservations, I could also feel his excitement and anticipation at the chance to conquer this new landscape of old geography.

Jason is a man finally facing himself and the hard truths he has kept hidden. A divorced father of one spunky little chick, Jason is real right down to the mixed bottle of emotions his ex-wife can open. His little one, Layla, is really well written. Almost wise beyond her years at times, with the same cheeky, pushing-the-boundaries attitude of every young child who knows a simple smile will buy them miles of leeway.

I really liked how Kate didn't let the story run away with how bitter and twisted everyone could have felt over the separation of Karen and Jason as Layla's parents. Instead, this story focuses on the outcomes of that decision, where each of the characters is at right now and how they are each in, if not a healthier place, then at least a much more honest one.

The absolute certainty that the marriage is over right from the start really let me focus on where the two main male characters were heading. Really subtle at first, it helped reading from both Lowell and Jason's points of view to see what past history each felt and remembered, leading to where they were coming from. I got to work with them as they each worked through separate issues before finally connecting.

The story, although not quite a tearjerker, is emotional without going too deep. Well balanced with drama and a bit of old friend humour, The Boy Next Door is a novel written in a contemporary style. Nx

Note: Review written for Queer Magazine Online.

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