Lena Grey's Reviews > Vintage: A Ghost Story

Vintage by Steve Berman
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Jun 04, 2011

really liked it
Read in May, 2011

Generally, ghost stories tend to distress rather than soothe me; however, Steve Berman's ghost story, 'Vintage' was an exception. His ghosts and the paranormal events connected with them, were introduced so nonchalantly that their existence seemed almost like a normal, everyday occurrence. It was interesting how Steve Berman used clothing to link past and present. Each costume had its own story to tell and provided clues to help solve the story's mysteries. “Vintage' is also the first story I've read in which the narrator, who was also the main character, wasn't introduced in the beginning of the book. When he is introduced, on Page 86, only his last name is mentioned. Second Mike: “So what about you? Vesely’s an odd last name.” I can only venture to guess that it made him easier for anyone to identify with his dilemma.

Our narrator, a gay teenager deeply engrossed in the Goth culture, jumped off the page and into my heart immediately. I was impressed with his strength and determination to keep going despite the odds. His loneliness and isolation made my heart ache. I wanted to reassure him that he would meet someone with a soul as beautiful as his was and would have no problem winning his heart. I had a bad feeling when the ghost, Josh, appeared to him and wanted to warn him that a boyfriend who was a ghost was not only impractical, but was a risky proposition, fraught with unpredictable consequences. However, he handled his relationship with Josh so casually that I almost forgot that he was a ghost and hoped that somehow it could work out for them. At other times though, I was frightfully aware of Josh's threatening other worldly behavior. I admired the young man's ability to accept his intuitive gift and his willingness not only to help put Josh to rest, but also to solve another mystery, therefore giving closure to Trace's family.

NOTE: This book was provided by Lethe Press for the purpose of a review on Queer Magazine Online

Trace is the shining star in his otherwise bleak existence. She is a simply awesome friend, always there for him, caring and sharing, offering the acceptance which others deny him. Trace provides him with the encouragement he needs. Their relationship epitomizes the term BBF, Best Friends Forever. Trace's younger brother, Second Mike, represents all that is good and innocent in youth. He lives in his older brother's shadow, even sharing his name. Despite all of this, Mike manages to find his individuality through his art, which paves the way for a loving relationship between him and our narrator. I thought that Steve Berman handled their budding relationship with grace and sensitivity, especially in relation to the boys’ decision to go slow and allow their relationship to unfold naturally, rather than rushing into anything more serious.

'Vintage' is a lot of experiences marvelously woven together. It's not only a ghost story filled with frightening other worldly images; it is also about the angst of being a teenager and gay and wanting to belong, be accepted, and loved. Although written specifically for young adults, it's a story with a universal message from which anyone can benefit.
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