GLAD HANDS BY NAOMI BROOKS & ANGELIA SPARROW

GLAD HANDS BY NAOMI BROOKS & ANGELIA SPARROW

Blurb:


Chuck rolls his rig across the no-longer-United States, from Montana to Arkansas. He expects a fast run with no complications. What he doesn’t expect is Seven, a pretty blue-eyed drifter who turns not only his head but makes his blood boil.

His gayness tattooed into his very skin, Seven needs Chuck’s help to escape the very limited life Heartland forces upon him. And when the even more repressive Confederated States take an interest, Chuck and Seven are in for the ride of their lives.

 

 

Review:

 

I saw this while scanning through the Literary Nymphs reviews and although very rarely do my tastes coincide with the reviews on the site, there is a plethora of reviewed books to peruse. So I was excited and pleased to find a book by authors I recognized set in a pseudo dystopian universe. It’s rather short at only 126 (including title pages, etc) so I knew I could read it quickly and easily. There was quite a bit of potential in the premise of this story and I was confused and disappointed that the authors seemed to deliver on very few aspects.

In 2091 in the world the authors created, the United States no longer exists, as we know it. Instead, various states have succeeded from the union and formed their own countries, governments, and regulations. The best analogy I can give is imagine the US becomes similar to Europe. Some of the countries are religious and racist, particularly the Confederate States – what we know now as the deep south; the West Coast, known as the Pacifica is more liberal and accepting to other race, religions and sexual orientations and so on.

Chuck Hummingbird lives in Seattle and drives a long distance rig. He’s of Cherokee decent and is “two-spirited”, in other words, he’s gay. He’s generally an easy-going guy with a surprisingly cheerful and upbeat personality. Nothing really seems to get Chuck upset or angry, which is slightly weird. He agrees to make a risky trip into the extremely conservative Confederate States when asked by the tribal council to do so. Although the country is well known for it’s shady laws allowing the execution of anyone not white for a variety of made up offenses from being out after dark to looking at the ground, the tribal council asks non-white Chuck to make the risky and potentially fatal trip.

Chuck goes to lengths to ensure there is nothing that he could get caught with or be accused of during the ill-fated trip, yet he doesn’t even think twice about picking up a homeless hitchhiker, Seven, who has been obviously abused and misused, tattooed with an “H” to mark him as homosexual. Nor does Chuck have second thoughts about having unprotected sex with this clearly abused and much younger boy. Chuck has a history of picking up strays, implied homosexual strays, ostentatiously to help them have a better life, but the connotation is almost as if Chuck commonly has sex with these boys he picks up, which is frankly creepy.

Seven, however, is a good character and perhaps the only fully realized aspect of the book. As the book is told almost exclusively from his point of view, his motivations and reasoning are best explained and understood. When caught with the mayor’s son in flagranto delicto, aka giving the boy a blowjob, Seven is whisked away to an asylum to be “cured” of his mental disease. He suffers two years of horrendous treatment and even going so far as electroshock therapy and then one day is unceremoniously released with no identification, no money, and no ability to get a job or home. The government ensures the tattoo and lack of records brands Seven as a deviant with no prospects. The months since his release have been hard, scrounging for food and being abused for something as simple as a shack to live in. Yet throughout it all, Seven retains his almost childlike innocence and hopeful nature. Almost unbelievable that through all his experiences he’s not become cynical and hardened, still clinging to his religious beliefs and the sometimes harsh memories of his youth.


When Chuck picks up Seven, the book started to take a turn for the worse that it never recovers from unfortunately. From their immediate sexual escapades, which they later paid for, to Chuck’s arrest and almost execution and then to their life together in Seattle; the story has a very uneven pace and a disjointed storyline. The entire CS escapades had a lot of buildup of predictable tension, then let down and slow pace only to ratchet up the tension to let it down quickly again. The resolution was over in a blink of improbable action with no further mention at all as the duo meander back across the various countries once more. There are also introductions and asides to characters with no connection to the storyline, which was confusing.

Ultimately, Chuck fell flat as a character as nothing at all bothers him. He is constantly happy, even dancing to his death, and all opportunities where his character could have depth and intensity were glossed over and ill written. Although Seven was the brief shinning point of the book, the story was too inconsistent with a very uneven writing style and jarring point of view changes. The duo of authors did not merge their styles very well into a cohesive, easy flowing story. The only two times Chuck gets upset in the story were baffling and confusing as I was felt like Seven, what did he say wrong? Furthermore what made Seven special for Chuck to want to marry him? Clearly Seven was suffering from a hero-worship and gratitude to the older man for saving him, yet the family and belief system Chuck offers him is not really that welcoming and comfort inducing. Chuck’s parents are standoffish and clearly against Chuck marrying Seven, due to his race, while the various therapy seasons for Seven seem counter-productive.

Without a doubt the authors knew about trucks as there was an incredible amount of detail, almost too much, but clearly the long distance trucking was an integral part of the characters and their lives, not simply a prop. The premise of the world and storyline was intriguing and had entertaining moments, although sometimes I clearly did not get all the jokes. The characters would often be laughing with such mirth and hilarity that they would cry tears of laughter, yet I was left wondering why I didn’t get the joke. Neither the situation nor dialogue was funny enough to fit the hysterical laughter that the characters dissolved into.


I wanted to like this book with the premise so full of possibility and potential. However the lack of a smooth and cohesive voice in combination to the uneven pacing had me frustrated. Added to that with the problematic characterization and simply improbable, yet predictable “action” subplot left this book firmly in the miss category for me. More time spent on the story arc and careful attention to editing would have improved it, yet several people did love the book so take my review with the proverbial grain of salt.

Get it HERE!

 


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4 thoughts on “GLAD HANDS BY NAOMI BROOKS & ANGELIA SPARROW

  1. Glad Hands
    This is an excellent review, very in-depth. I’m with you — I don’t much like the review sites that post vague reviews like, “This was really, really hot!” and that’s it. 🙂

  2. Kassa
    I read Val’s review and now yours and I can understand both perspectives.
    I would have had difficulty with “always happy Chuck” the pervert *g* (he seemed to have a good thing going with all the strays and hitchhikers he picks up). His character does not seem fully realized and the plot seems to be somewhat underdeveloped. Why would the tribal council send someone who was not white to an area where it was almost a death sentence, and more important, why would he go? If he’s dead he still loses his lucrative trucking route. Why was he released from prison after almost being put to death? However, this is a futuristic story so perhaps some artistic licence is in order. The unprotected sex? Maybe since this is in the future, AIDS has been eliminated and therefore there is no longer any need for condoms!
    I should preface my comments by saying that I have not read this book and I’m going by your inmpressions of the story. BTW I believe that Angelia is a truck driver or used to be one, which is perhaps the reason for the amount of detail regarding the truck runs.

    • So all the questions you brought up are good ones Wave and part of the reason I really disliked this offering. It’s never explained why they would want someone almost guarenteed to get arrested and killed to go there and although Chuck says he will because of the money, it makes NO sense. Furthermore the utterly ridiculous rescue scene was over the top, innane and totally unbelievable. Then after the big chase scene, the pace LITERALLY crawls to a halt as the two meander back even while being fugitives. It made no sense.
      Oh and yes they did need condoms – as evidenced by the fact that they get an STD later due to not using condoms. It’s mind boggling how bad I think this book is.
      I will say the detail was impressive. Clearly accurate and informative.

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