It’s no secret that I adore Talker & Brian and the entire Talker series. It’s definitely one of my favorites for a lot of reasons. The third book in the series, Talker’s Graduation, puts a nice solid happy ending on the couple but due to the choppy writing, uneven pace, and flashbacks that hurt more than help this particular offering isn’t as good as the previous ones. Fans of the series will definitely want to read it and I recommend it, but it’s definitely not as emotionally intense as the previous books and thus offers a much more muted impact.
It’s now a few years after the last book and Talker and Brian have moved into a cottage by the sea. They’re happier than they’ve ever been before but getting there wasn’t easy. Talker remembers their difficult recovery from Brian’s attack and getting to a place where Talker is finally, 100% confident and comfortable with Brian’s love and devotion.
As with the previous two books, much of the information and story is told and shown in flashbacks or in this case, flash forwards. Here the author uses italics for flash forward scenes, happening a few years in the future and regular type for the past scenes where the last book left off. While I never really minded this back and forth in previous books in the series, I found it very distracting for this particular one. I think it’s because the order is reversed and the past/present scenes are meant to fill in the gaps for how the couple get to their happy future.
Yet the gaps never really felt filled in. The time line would leap from a few years in the past to a few years in the present and I never felt the full connection between the two. Instead they feel like two totally different things that never quite made sense together. Part of this is the major changes that the characters go through. Brian goes from a college student to struggling with rehab for his injuries while graduating at the same time. He ends up sculpting clay, initially as part of his rehab and later as a career. This is a nice change and shows Brian moving from a somewhat directionless college existence to a solid career as an artist, but it happens way too fast and without some much needed context.
Likewise Talker goes from a scared, jumbled mess in college to dropping out and volunteering with foster kids. Again, this isn’t a move I’m against but I didn’t feel there was enough background and information in between the past characters and their future selves. It feels too disjointed and choppy. There are some really easy outs to help the situation as well that I found very disappointing. The gallery owner Mark should have been a source of tension but instead becomes a fairy godfather for no real reason or understanding. All of a sudden Talker and Brian have it easy and comfortable after years of struggle and hardship.
I guess therein lies my biggest problem with this novella. One of the reasons Brian and Talker feel so authentic and wonderful are that they struggle with a lot while maintaining this incredibly deep and meaningful love between them. That love makes them strong and allows them to get through their problems, but they have some considerable issues and conflicts. This is a couple that couldn’t afford heat or food at the same time and even then food was often scarce. It’s not that I want them to struggle but when all of their troubles are taken away and they’re suddenly gifted with direction in life and a nice, comfortable existence, this feels too easy and almost like cheating. It’s the equivalent of getting a sudden inheritance that makes them rich and all their problems disappear.
Their ending and new life is obviously a good direction and nice payoff for all the hardships the couple has gone through. It’s a happy ending that suits the two men very well too. I just wish the story had offered more context showing this happening and less quick, abrupt changes. Ultimately I just didn’t believe that the changes and good fortune happened that quickly for the two and kind of out of the blue. It takes the intensity and meaning from the previous books with such an easy out. Or that’s how I see it.
I still love this couple to no end and would recommend this book to fans of the series. Maybe there will be another one but TG provides a very solid happy ending for Talker and Brian. It’s not the exact path I would have expected to see, nor the way I thought they’d get there but perhaps other readers won’t mind. As always the writing and characterization are superior.