But if Randy’s death taught me anything, it’s that life is short. I know it’s nuts, it’s impulsive, I haven’t thought it through at all. But sometimes, Kevin, you just have to say ‘what the heck?’ and take a chance. 
The Year of Ice follows a year in the life of Kevin Doyle, who turns eighteen in 1978, as he forays into adulthood and a life that his rearing and family values have not prepared him for. Kevin likes boys: he has a crush on a fellow football teammate whom he dreams of marrying. In the past two years, Kevin’s relationship with his father, Patrick, has grown distant, and as lonely women (from widows and widowers support group) vie for his attention, Kevin discovers Patrick’s closely guarded secret: At the time of his wife’s death, he had planned to abandon his family for another woman. What appeared to be a fatal car accident—as Eileen Doyle’s car hit a patch of ice and careened off the icy Mississippi River in Minneapolis—may as well be a suicide.
And I don’t believe, not even for a second, that she killed herself. She wouldn’t do that to me. She wouldn’t leave me with a man who wanted to skip town without me . . . did she figure out that I liked boys? Is that what drove her into the Mississippi? . . . Was it my fault? 
The Year of Ice evokes the pain and loneliness of a coming-of-age teenager who is both fearful and curious of his sexual orientation. He can only maintain disguise of a boyfriend, a sort of alpha-male-to-be to fit in the pecking order of males, to a girl with whom he avoids to engage in intimacy. He seeks the consolation of an imaginary boyfriend in the form of his crush at night. In the face of the confrontation of ugly, long-buried family secrets, Kevin negotiates life on his own. Evoking the character of Maurice in E.M. Forster’s novel, he realizes the forbidden love, let alone the concomitant’s happiness, is only possible in a dream. I resonate with Kevin’s trembling escapades as he reaches out to secure copies of Playgirl, writing and answering personal ads, and attempting to cruise bars.
That’s what I need, camouflage . . . I wanna go inside, but I can’t make myself to do it. So I head to the Dart and stick the key in the lock. I sit inside for a minute or two before I turn the ignition . . . I wanna cry. “cause the guy I love was waiting for me in the 90’s, but I didn’t have the balls to walk through the door and say hello. 
With an intimate and honest (often humorous) voice,
I think I’m gonna pass out ’cause all the blood’s rushing out of my head and I’m seeing spots in front of my eyes and she won’t stop spazzing. Why the hell do I have to do this? I squeeze, I cringe. She like oh, oh, and I’m like eeeew, eeeew. 
That’s what I love, somebody gave birth, so they’re better than the rest of us. Just because we can reproduce doesn’t mean that we should. 
the novel is a story where being gay is only one of a teenager’s problems, and not the most difficult one. It examines what happens to a family when the fiercest loyalties are not to each other, but to one’s own secrets. The book is cross-genre at it’s best.
262 pp [Read/Skim/Toss]