A Fine Bromance, by Christopher Hawthorne Moss.
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: August 11th 2016
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Robby is a senior in high school when he meets new student Andy. Robby’s never experienced sexual attraction, and while that doesn’t change, something about Andy makes him feel relaxed, and it turns out they have a lot in common. Neither of them fits in very well, and Robby soon learns through the school’s bullies that Andy is a transboy. Sticking together makes life better for both of them.
Then some of Robby’s Aunt Ivy’s jewelry turns up missing, and Robby and Andy must investigate to discover who’s to blame.
A quick note before I get into the review:
Please forgive me/educate me if I write about the Trans character in a way that is not accepted by the Trans community. I personally don’t know anything about what it is like to go through this, but I am indeed a supporter of the LGBTQA+ community so I am not trying to purposefully be hurtful or use incorrect terminology. Also, the phobic words that appear in my review were used in the book, and I am commenting on their usage when I use them here. Thank you for your understanding in this matter!
So I did not like this book at all. I really wanted to because the premise sounded pretty cool, but it turned out to be a poorly written mess.
The biggest problem that I had with this book (other than the bad writing itself) was that the inclusion of a transgender and an asexual character seemed like they were just there to seem hip to the ongoings of the community to gain readers. I honestly hope that this author had good intentions and they just got bungled due to writing/editing issues.
Robby is the asexual character, but his potential asexuality barely came up. His parents kept asking him if he was gay, and he talked to Andy about it when they kissed. Otherwise it seemed like it didn’t exist. Throughout the book he came across as the master of LGBTQA+ knowledge, but he had no idea what asexuality was or any clue about his own sexual identity. It would be okay that he was confused, but the author did not make it believable that he could be both, and he came off as preachy.
Poor Andy, the transgender male character, seemed like the book’s punching bag. Also I understand about including conflict/bullying/whatever because a character is trans, but on the other hand how often do you need to use terms like “dyke,” “trannie,” and “fag”? I am not a sensitive person, but it really seemed like these words were overused to prove that Andy was getting bullied.
I don’t want to read or hear those words, but I’ll accept them as something coming from a bully– up to a point. After that it gets really uncomfortable to read the trans character getting constantly bashed throughout the book when there was little to no character development. It came off like trans people can’t be anything but victims, and it bothered me a lot.
It felt like the characters were asexual and transgender just to have them in the book, to tag it a certain way. Nothing was really done with either aspect, other than to either mention it offhand or to have someone bash them. There was the whole awkward, “I like you” / “are you gay” / kissing thing, but it was really awkward like the author didn’t think it through other than to just have these characters be a certain way.
This was complicated by the language and writing style of the book. The language used in this book was probably intended to make the main kids seem like they were good with the LGBTQA+ community. However, the majority of it came off as pretty phobic, or at least too focused on people’s sexualities/genders.
For example, Robby gets home and his sister is complaining about a new “dyke” in school (Andy the transgender boy) and then Robby thinks to himself:
“Surely Rhonda would’ve said if there was a new lesbian in class.”
Firstly, Rhonda was a one off character at the beginning of the book, so when would she have mentioned it to him? Secondly it was offensive to me that Robby assumed she would have outed someone to him randomly. Who would do that to someone?
The actual plot of the book was less of a plot and more of a poorly handled mess of unrelated things shoved together. It was like the author couldn’t make a decision about a plot, included everything they thought of, and then didn’t write it well. There was transgender angst, asexual angst, graduation, a kidnapping, bullying, a mystery… It doesn’t seem like much but when you are reading the book everything gets kind of jumbled and frustrating.
It was dizzying to try to keep up with everything particularly because the language was also incredibly stilted and awkward. What I really wish the author had done was focus on the mystery about Aunt Ivy’s missing trinkets, and then reveal stuff about the characters instead of making a big stink about their sexual and gender identities and then doing nothing with it.
This entire book just frustrated me greatly and if you read it and I am just missing something please tell me. Now I just want to read a well written book about a trans character and an asexual character solving mysteries.
Kit wrote his first short story when he was seven years old. When summer camp friend Laura and he started their florid medieval saga they called “The Story” Kit became a regular writer, with mostly wry humorous stories written with like-minded friends.
Kit had a stint writing copy for web sites, and he published a nonfiction work in 1991 titles LOVING THE GODDESS WITHIN.
Since that book he has continued to write stories, articles, reviews, and more novels, most recently with GLBT themes. He is devoted to using historical fiction to solve the erasure of GLBT history. He became the editor of Our Story: GLBTQ Historical Fiction for GLBT Bookshelf.
You can find more about Kit and his books at his website (click here!)
You can purchase A Fine Bromance from:
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.