Stanley Bennett Clay's Reviews > Covenant

Covenant by Rashid Darden
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's review
Apr 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: gay-and-lesbian

Author Rashid Darden betters himself considerably with Covenant, the sequel to his debut novel Lazarus. In a story that is sweet and sexy, poignant and though-provoking, funny and sad, the author skillfully continues the journey of our young and affable now-out-of-the-closet hero and narrator Adrian Collins as he traverses college life, fraternal brotherhood, family reconciliations, the pain of lost love and the joy of new love.

Adrian, now a sophomore and still healing from his break up with Savion, the handsome Latino poet we met in Lazarus, seems to be handling his business on campus well. He befriends other gay and lesbian schoolmates with dignity, and his frat brothers, for the most part, accept him and his sexuality, although he suffers an on-campus assault by a vicious homophobe, from which a very special friend rescues him.

His on-campus and fraternity challenges are rather lightweight this time around, including a cursory dissertation on the cruelty of hazing. But Adrian’s efforts to straighten out his relationship with a mother who seems to value his scholastic achievements over the bond most sons share with their mom, and a father who attempts to re-enter his life after a twelve-year absence, gives this tight short novel much heft.

However, the book’s great emotional daring-do is Adrian’s relationship with campus basketball star Isaiah, a gorgeous hunk Adrian’s had a crush on since his freshman year. Their friendship, a lesson in brotherhood, is simply beautiful. As we watch their relationship evolve into something much more, something both secretly desire, we admire how they both respect a covenant of restraint I suspect precious few of us are capable of maintaining.

This time around not much really happens plot-wise, and that’s perfectly okay. Most of the action is internal, lifting the story emotionally, even jerking tears with lovely human insights and personal discoveries.

Even the sex scenes are romantic and touching, although they still manage to engender considerable steam, especially a tryst that ends up in a shower.

That the author has chosen to let Adrian tell his tale nonlinearly is another plus. Adrian is a good guy facing a life whose complications any reader can empathize with. As we seldom see the segments of our life stories in chronological order, Adrian too shares with us in the order dictated not by time and place, but by the emotional highs and lows of his heart, constantly trying to make some sense of young manhood and the wonderful frustrating mumble jumble that colors the coming of age process and love’s baffling conundrums.

Covenant is a very sweet ride, simply and touchingly told, and although nitpicker me would have liked a slightly stronger ending, Mr. Darden reminded me of something I’ve always believed, and that is that love truly does conquer all.

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