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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
What a treat to discover a writer who both delights and enlightens you. For me, Jamie Deacon is that writer with this realistic and beautiful story about Ben and Taylor, Forbidden Steps. My delight rests in watching how tastefully Deacon unfolds a story about gay love by not putting all the focus on the sexual aspects of the relationship. Of course, Ben and Taylor are sexually attracted to each other when they first meet, but the circumstances are awkward: they are step-brothers in a blended family, a situation Taylor finds nearly intolerable, and neither enjoys. Toss into the mix that both have been badly hurt by their exes and that this new combination of parents doesn’t approve of gay love, especially between their sons, how can love flourish?
But flourish it does under the talented pen of Jamie Deacon. Alternating between both boys as narrators, he tells their story in the present tense, giving it a powerful immediacy. We always know what each is feeling and thinking as they experience the same familial difficulties or share the painful pasts that make them afraid to love again. But Ben and Taylor aren’t the only characters who hold us captive. As each boy reacts to his experiences with several parents and siblings, readers are enlightened about the complications of making blended families work. All the characters, their concerns, and their subsequent actions are so realistic and relatable. As a mother and a wife, I understood each mom and dad as much as I did their sons. This is superb writing.
When authors achieve that desirable goal of enlightening while entertaining, you can be assured that a novel is worthy of your attention. Jamie Deacon has published 4 novels to date and after reading Forbidden Steps, it’s no surprise that he has won several awards. Young adult readers need more authors like Jamie Deacon who explore controversial subjects with such sensitivity. Bravo!