Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Encore by Shira Anthony

Reviewed by Fehu
Encore (Blue Notes #5) by Shira Anthony
Dreamspinner Press
Novel: 296pgs
4.5 Pants Off

Cool kid violinist Roger Nelson doesn’t give a damn about anything. Wannabe conductor John Fuchs is awkward, effeminate, and just figuring out he’s gay. Despite their differences, they become friends—then lovers—and after college, they try to make it work. But it’s the 1970s, and Roger can’t bring himself to admit he’s gay. Worse, after his brother is killed in Vietnam, Roger tries to live up to his memory and be the perfect son. Then after suffering one tragedy too many, he makes the biggest mistake of his life: Roger pushes John away.

Through the years, they dance around the truth and in and out of each other’s lives, never quite able to let go. Twenty years later, Roger still carries the pain of losing his dream of a brilliant career with him, while John is a superstar conductor with a wild reputation. John’s off-stage antics get him plenty of attention, good and bad, though deep down, he wants only Roger. Finally determined to hold on to what really matters, Roger asks John for another chance, and when John panics and runs, Roger has to convince him to listen to his heart.

A very good book that ties up some loose open ends of the Aria book and tells of some new beginnings. I felt a bit like a goodbye and a new beginning. John is a young man who has to transfer to another school just before the end of his high school career, after his parents’ divorce. There he meets Roger, a fellow music geek who is also part of the orchestra, where John plays. Early on John realises his attraction to Roger, who becomes his best friend and is always supportive of him.

In college they both are together, but Roger's parents don't like John, they encourage Roger to date girls and let John go, which he resists. After an accident Roger cannot longer play the Violin and has to go to a different college and give up on his dream of becoming a musician, while John's career takes off and he goes to New York.

Roger has to learn to deal to weather his parent’s expectations, his own desires and his failed career as a musician, as well as society’s stigmas. He also needs to decide if he can stand to have John in his live, who will always remind him of what he had lost. The story shows John and Roger grow up, find their careers and find a way to each other, which was not straight or easy.

Here we meet John and Roger, who played an important part in the lives of the characters we knew from previous books. Alec is mentioned and Corry and a young David, it's hard not to feel a bit sad to know that it's about an end of an era. John and Roger brought some of the people together and I don't remember reading a lot about them in the following books, with Roger's illness, that made me think that they might no longer be there. On the other hand it's nice to see all the people they influenced, grow and become stronger, fail and rise, find love and make friends for life, just like John and Roger have been. John and Roger's story shows a part of American history, the rise of AIDS, death of lovers and friends, the panic of the infection. It also shows human prejudice, but most of all it shows the strength of true friendship, that weathered decades and a love that grew along.

4.5 Pants Off

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