This book is part of LT3 Press’ Solitary Traveler’s collection, which includes novels and novellas with asexual and aromantic characters. You can find more about that here. I will be reviewing these stories throughout the next month, so keep an eye out!
The Life & Death of Eli & Jay, by Francis Gideon
Part of the Solitary Traveler’s Collection
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: March 23, 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Eli and Jay have known one another since they were children. Their life on the Star Belt government reserve in Saskatchewan isn’t great, but the people—like Tantoo, Eli’s grandmother, Jay’s sisters and grandmother Buffy—have always made life tolerable.
Until the day Jay kisses Eli, only to be rejected, and a moment of misunderstanding drives the two friends apart for years. When tragedy strikes, Eli wonders if the event will be enough to draw the two together once more.
Asexual (Biromantic) Character
There are two things about this story that I really adore:
The first is Eli’s quest to understand himself and to figure out what makes him different from his best friend, Jay. It’s refreshing to read a story where the asexuality is an integral part of the character’s identity, but not actually made into a big deal. Eli realizes pretty quickly that he’s not interested in sex the way Jay is. What I enjoyed is how his asexuality frames his worldview and his relationships with his grandmother, his friend, and everyone around him.
I also really loved the thread of magical realism that wove through the story. I don’t want to go into this too much, because I think it will spoil the story to give more detail, but Eli and Jay both have mythologies behind them, origin stories and death predictions, which shape their characters.
I did struggle with the length of the story, which is a recurring issue for me when reading novellas. There were aspects of Jay’s character that I felt cheated on, because the story focused more on Eli and breezed through some plot points that I wanted more explanation on. I also think the wording was a bit stiff and formal at times, which felt out of place for two young men.
But the story is a lovely one, and extremely enjoyable. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re interested in a story that explores identity both on a sexual/romantic and a metaphysical level!
Francis is the author of several novels and novellas that show a wide variety of relationships and people, including transgender men, menage pairings, and asexual couples.
Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante. He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee.
You can find Francis on his website at https://francisgideon.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter.
You can buy The Life & Death of Eli & Jay from the Publisher!
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.