She has a baby in her cart. He’s sitting in the baby seat like he’s supposed to be, his curly blonde hair like a halo, his soft baby legs dangling, one chubby little hand holding the railing in front of him, the other clutching a piece of Red Vine licorice. He’s looking at me, his face and hands coated in sweet, sticky licorice residue.
I stand on tiptoe again and kiss the baby’s licorice-coated cheek. He smiles, leans down over the safety bar in front of him, and kisses my mouth.
Love’s first kisses.
Then she takes him away from me.
Jamie is a two-year-old kid when he meets a four-year-old Tammy for the first time. They were meant to be one, but fate chooses to break them apart several times along their lives.
Two broken souls meant to be one.
Time goes on, and Jamie is broken by a Daddy that abuses him and a Mommy that beats him.
Time goes on, and Tammy is broken by his Uncle Price that abuses him and a Dad that behaves like he didn’t exist.
Jamie is a sad boy.
Tammy is an angry boy.
Broken by people who are meant to protect them, they meet again in their teens. But they are separated again. By cowardice, by terror, by no acceptance. To never be happy and never feel complete.
Destiny makes them meet again. And this time they are determined to not be apart never again. But hate is difficult to get over. Self-hate is even more difficult to erase.
The story is compelling. Mesmerizing. Addictive. Pure cocain. I couldn’t get enough. It had my heart in a fist in the first two pages. I felt so absorbed by the words that I couldn’t leave them for long. I was lost in Jamie’s sad smile. I was lost in Tammy’s angry acts. I was disgusted. I was enamored. I was hooked. It’s a brutal story. With no shades of gray. It was ugly. It was beautiful. It was magic.
I tried not to be dragged into sadness, but there were moments I really felt devastated. There were moments I could barely breathe...
It’s one of those couples meant to be together even before they’re born. Like Garrett Hedlund sings, “You can call it fate, or destiny. Sometimes it really seems it’s a mystery…”, and you REALLY feel that, there is no way to deny it. They paths cross several times during the years. But obstacles and bigotry and pain get them apart from each other. Their inner struggles catch you to never let go. Their thoughts attract you like a moth to a fire. Their feelings hurt but also heal. It’s a battle of opposites. Black and white.
The pov alternates between Jamie and Tammy. Although the episodes are repeated when the perspective is changed, I didn’t find it redundant. It felt right. You understand each of them from their own positions in the game. A game ruled by more than two players. The chess pieces are moved and we need to see the consequences on the two main victims from the perpetrators. The kings want to be together but their movements are aborted by other pieces, and by their own fears. Because two kings are not meant to exist in the same chess board. They are apart most of the game, and if they get to be together, jaque mate.
Jamie had been pursued his whole life. He was a toy for his parents. He was used, manipulated, abused. He lives in self-hate, in sickness. He’s a shadow whose spirit had been chased to be erased. But he survived. He is sad.
Tearfully he whispers, “I have a crush on you…”
“Very big… yes…”
“You love me?”
“Yes,” he nods.
It bursts quietly from my heart, like a bullet, “I love you too…”
His life is dull but one day at church the most handsome boy on Earth takes his hand. That unforgiving minute ruins him. There would be no other than Tammy. He never missed anything until Tammy takes his hand. He is destroyed beyond repair and he knows it.
Every sound around us is suddenly muted, except for the water, splashing softly. His smile… oh my God… incredible… compelling… I’m powerless… My heart begins to tremble and skip as I feel my lips stretch wide in response. The palpitations tickle my ribs as we stare at each other, our smiles unchanging, but our eyes transforming. I see it in his, I feel it in mine. Our smiles follow the course of our eyes. Tammy gazes down at me, his eyes and lips gentle, soft, dreamy. He’s in a trance… it’s the same look I’ve caught in his eyes so many times lately… it’s here… now….
My eyes are locked with his, and this moment expands into a small forever…
Tammy was a happy boy till the day his uncle stopped using him. Tammy loved his uncle, and loved his touch. He only craved his uncle’s attention, physical and emotionally. But one day his uncle says no, and his devastation makes Tammy chase his uncle pursuing other little boys. He feels replaced. He feels like trash. He hates those little boys. He hates his cousin. He hates everything. He writes stories marked with hate. He begins to harm animals. He is angry.
His eyes paralyze me…
And he makes no effort to take his arms down…
He’s so close… too close…
I want to kiss him.
He’s trembling. I’m trembling.
Does he know how close I am…?
I see three terrifying words in his eyes as he stares up at me…
I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love with him.
His life changes when he is ashamed by his Pastor, the one who doesn’t acknowledge him as his son. He is embarrassed. So he turns into girls to forget the violence. One day he takes Jamie’s hand and nothing would ever be the same.
The most subtle movement, a tiny contraction of his hand around mine, and my focus is fully stolen from Yvette in spite of her iniquitous attentions. I turn my head to the right, remembering the odd little flutter that happened inside me when his fingers curled just a little tighter around mine for that instant. Our eyes meet a second time as he looks up at me. The contact lasts for a few beats, but time is stretched like a rubber band. Those huge eyes open impossibly wider for a split second, and I see something I can’t describe in words. I feel my stomach quiver again and his eyes close, his fingernails gently dig into the palm of my hand…
…and I can barely breathe…
I’ve seen him… I know him… Where have I seen him before…?!
There is very much hate in this book. Hate by people who don’t accept people who love people from the same sex. They talk about God a little too much. They talk about animal violence a little too much. They talk about abuse a little too much. I think sometimes it's excessive.
This is a story about how hate and violence take two people apart. It made me sick that two souls meant to be one have to be apart because of what the people surrounding them believe. How they hurt them. Crush them. I know, nothing new, really, but it’s fucked up. There is enough sadness and there is enough hate in the world, and in their hearts.
I don’t cry because of the pain.
I cry because I’m happy.
I cry because my dream has come true. Tammy is here. With me.
I cry because I’m afraid. Now I’ve given him my body. I’m his, and I know, deep down in a place I don’t consciously acknowledge, that if he breaks my heart, I’ll die.
If I fuck this up and lose him, it’s all over.
This book is brutal. Ruthless. Heartless. Cruel. Savage. Hopeless.
I watched… that’s all I had to do.
And now realization avalanches onto me.
It is a video depicting two adults defiling the body, and crushing the spirit of a beautiful, innocent child.
It is a crush video.
But it’s also beautiful. Precious. Compassionate. Inspiring. Heartening.
The cold penetrates every layer of me.
My hand tightens around my angel.
God, how I love you, he’d said that day.
I love you, Tammy, I said tonight. I’ll love you always. All my life.
I felt like my emotions were being played by some kind of puppeteer the whole book. But in a good way.
“I mean it, Tammy. I’m tired. I’m tired of living with this guilt. I can’t even have sex with you without remembering what they did to me. What they did gets into everything, taints it, ruins it. I can’t enjoy my life. I should never have gotten with you, because I knew, deep in my heart, something would ruin it. I should have stayed alone. At least I was able to get through my day without constantly reliving the torture…”
I can feel his pain, but my own is too great to cosset him right now.
“And I can’t even go back to being alone… not now. You’ve made your mark on me, Tammy. I’ll never again be able to live alone and semi-happy, able to push my mind past how it feels to be totally and pathetically in love with someone. I’ll never again be able to almost ignore how bad it hurts that I can’t have a normal life, ever.” I plaster my hands over my eyes and cry and cry. “Why did you have yo come home? I was doing okay… really I was…”
I’m breaking his heart… I know… but I can’t…
It’s difficult for me to find words when I loved the book too much. It’s easier to talk about the ones I don’t. It’s just describing my feelings and put them into letters is sort of turning copper into gold. I don’t have a magic touch to make things shine. I just can melt the copper and with luck it would be similar to a prettier metal. But I hope at least I could make something similar and transmit what the book make me feel.