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[214] Strings Attached – Nick Nolan

StringsHe felt the familiar flames of self-hatred spark then leap skyward once again, fanned by the certainty that he will never be a real man, no matter how many muscles he grew. He was paralyzed now, the invisible strings yanking every part of him in opposite directions. [181]

Nick Nolan’s novel is another sexy coming-of-age, coming-out-of-the-closet story at a glance. A closer perusal will do the justice that Strings Attached is thoughtful to incorporate the reality of a neglected teenage boy reared by an alcoholic mother. When Tiffany Tyler, whose drug addiction fifteen years ago had wrecked her family apart, goes into rehab again, seventeen-year-old Jeremy Tyler moves from Fresno slum to the paradise estate of Katherine Tyler and Bill Mortson.

No, she said she wants to make sure I eat the right stuff. And she even wanted to have my hair cut a certain way, and ordered a bunch of stuff for me from the Banana, and she corrects the way I walk and the way I talk. It’s kind of driving me crazy. [54]

While Aunt Katherine (indubitably) dotes on Jeremy, she is also controlling him like Gepetto does Pinocchio—holding up his head an imaginary string. Caught up with recreating the legacy of Jeremy’s father: genteel, well-educated, classy, preppy and athletic, she is determined to carve, or clone her great-nephew into the image of what she likes to think his father was. That Jonathan Tyler had died so unfairly, at a premature age, might well justify her exerting a tight reign over Jeremy.

Whom you fall in love with has little to do with it; to be a man you must be three things: courageous, honest, and selfish. . . . Courage is needed to be honest with yourself, and once you know your true nature you must be courageous to be selfish about your needs. [111]

In Arthur, the gay butler, he finds the courage and strength to face his true self, although he continues to suppress his desire and obliterate his attraction to guys by dating Reed, a beautiful mulatto girl in school. Jeremy’s mentality mirrors that of parents (including mine) to whom their sons have come out. They cling on to the last hope that a magical combination of beauty, sexiness, and intelligence in the opposite sex might make them forget any disturbing urges and help them become the man they dream of becoming. As Jeremy becomes in touch with who he really is as a person, he falls prey to an insidious plot that will rid him to be at the helm of the Tyler enterprises.

Strings Attached embodies what great storytelling should be: well-written prose, engaging plot, and thought-provoking commentaries. It speaks so powerfully that what matters the most in life is not the label or how society defines a person, but that one is comfortable in his skin. It takes courage to be true to one’s self because one is not capable of love unless he is true to himself. This novel exemplifies cross-genre fiction.

290 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]

6 Responses

  1. Sounds excellent. Thanks for the great review!

  2. Amen brother!

  3. This sounds like a great book that touches on so many important subjects. I’ve read a lot of GL YA books but I don’t think I’ve read any adult literature. I may have to locate this one!!

  4. I love what you said about what matters most is being comfortable in your own skin…it is so true. I love the quote from the book about what being a real man is…very true and how I have tried to raise my son. Who he chooses to love in his life makes no difference to me. I just want him to be happy and true to his self.

  5. This sounds like a powerful book. I loved the quote from pg. 111 that you included. I have never understood why parents/people insist that their son is only gay because he hasn’t met an attractive enough woman. It makes no sense to me. If I meet an attractive enough female, will I turn into a lesbian? Of course not. It doesn’t work that way. I understand how hard it is in society but it is always better to be true to yourself than to be a carbon copy of someone else and never really, truly live. Thanks for the review, Matt. 🙂

  6. To be true to one’s own self….that is so difficult today. But you are absolutely right, it is essential for happiness. This sounds like a great read. THanks.

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