The Telling by Eden Winters
Time spent in Iraq cost Michael Ritter more than just the hearing in one ear. It cost him a friend, one whose death he feels responsible for. When he eagerly left Alabama for what he believed would be a grand adventure, he thought to escape his small hometown and the life that awaited him there. A lot can happen in four years, and now Michael’s back, bringing a duffle full of personal demons with him.
Four years ago Jay Ortiz left home for the first time to attend college, in a place where his both his heritage and his orientation aren’t widely accepted. While adjusting to his new surroundings, he found a picture of a young soldier. During dark and lonely times he confided in the image of the stoic young man, until one day he discovered that he’d given his heart away to someone he’d never met. Now that man was coming home…
In a world of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, there comes a time when you have to decide who and what you are.
[I know this is a free book but I love this cover. Why couldn’t a great cover like this be used for The Wish?]
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first heard of The Telling as a free book offered by the author to get to know her writing. Not only intrigued but curious, I downloaded a free copy. After having read The Wish I wanted to see what else this author could offer. The Telling is very similar in writing style and tone to The Wish and I hesitate to make bold statements after just two books but Winters’ writing seems to be languid, affecting, and poignant. There is a gentle ease to this story that draws readers in to the emotionally battered characters and their struggles. The romance factor is very high and I even whelled up with tears once or twice as the book has an emotional impact for sure. I’m surprised this is a free read because it’s really that good. If you’re looking for a book to introduce you to a very good author, check it out.
As the summary says, the story is about a small town Alabama boy Michael that is back after four years in the military. He may be physically ok, minus hearing from one ear leading to his discharge, but emotionally he’s still coping with the horror and tragedy of his time in Iraq. His very real struggles are helped with a surprising attraction to Jay, a Mexican student from a huge family with a big heart and a lot of compassion. With Jay’s help, Michael not only slowly starts to heal but discovers his sexuality.
The story itself is very sweet with a languid pace to the writing. There are a few moments that get your heart racing or eyes tearing but these few scenes are dramatic rather than action filled. The characters drive the story with their relationship and emotional struggles. Jay is not quite perfect as an engineering student that falls in love with the image and stories about Michael long before he meets the man in person. Jay’s help and support is crucial to Michael as he starts to make small inroads into his PTSD. Michael is wonderful as a slightly broken young man dealing with a slew of emotions over his past actions and the death of a very close friend. He also knows he’s gay but hasn’t really acted on the knowledge until his attraction to Jay motivates him.
The two men move around each other in a slow, lovely dance that culminates in a bit of instant love but their depth of emotion and commitment is understandable given the background. They have a very strong connection and the story offers a lot of hope and romance between them. Their interactions are the core of the story while each has a strong family that supports them. Here the story stays with Michael’s emotional problems as the biggest conflict and neither man experiences much outside condemnation though it’s hinted at. Most of the negative reaction is centered around one man who becomes the sole figure of opposition to Jay and Michael’s newfound love. This is a bit one sided but given how much Michael struggles, I didn’t want him to deal with additional town issues so this choice is fine.
The story tends to lean slightly on sappy sweet in a few places and Jay comes across a little too good to be true for the most part while both families are strong support. The dialogue can be stilted in a few places and some actions are obviously contrived – the scene with Michael and Angie with Jay in the bedroom for example – but these are all minor issues that won’t affect reader enjoyment. For the most part, The Telling offers an absorbing gentle journey filled with emotional hurdles and a strong happy ending. It’s free so there’s no excuse not to familiarize yourself with the good writing of Eden Winters.
Get it HERE! <— free book!