by David-Elijah Nahmod
Every Time I Think of You, a novel by Jim Provenzano; CreateSpace, $14.95
B.A.R. assistant arts editor (and editor of our companion magazine BARtab ) offers his unforgettable and profoundly moving fourth novel, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. As Every Time I Think of You opens, it's 1978. Reid and Everett meet and fall deeply in love over the course of a weekend. They live on opposite sides of the tracks. Reid is a shy bookworm from a decidedly blue-collar family, while Everett is the scion of the town's wealthiest family.
In setting his story several years before the AIDS crisis struck, Provenzano wisely allows his protagonists to dive into love – and sex – without fear. The first few times the boys are together are filled with the joy and nervousness that only happens when you meet your soulmate.
After a few short days together, Everett has to return to his private school hundreds of miles away. Though separated, their love endures. Provenzano's vividly written prose captures the excitement and anticipation Reid and Everett share as they send each other packages, speak on the phone when they can, and await their next meeting. The author brings his characters to life – it often reads like we're observing two people we've actually met.
About midway through the book, the story takes a sharp, dramatic turn. An unforeseen tragedy comes between Reid and Everett. Can their love survive this unexpected hurdle? Can they, as teenagers, deal with what the universe has thrust at them?
There are so many levels of nuance to Provenzano's story. Set in a small, somewhat conservative town in Pennsylvania, the book reminds us that it's not always easy to be in a gay relationship in areas where being gay can still be frowned upon. The boys often have to fib in order to spend time together – at first they're forced to introduce each other to their families as "friends." But reading about the clever ways in which they find to spend time together is inspiring and touching.
The sex scenes are somewhat graphic, but never pornographic. They don't fuck, they make love. It's an exciting voyage of discovery, for them and for readers alike. When the story takes its more serious turn, Every Time I Think of You becomes a tale of heartbreak, courage, and healing. It's a remarkable, uplifting story that Provenzano should be proud of.
Every Time I Think of You is available in select bookstores, and at Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions.