I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Tristant and Elijah by Jennifer Lavoie
Published by Bold Strokes Books on July 15th 2014
Genres: Friendship, Homosexuality, LGBT, Social Issues, Young Adult
Tristant Whitfield has had a secret crush on straight Elijah Cambridge since the start of high school. He’s okay keeping his distance, but when Elijah starts visiting him at work and bringing his favorite coffee, Tristant begins to wonder if there’s something more there.
Then Elijah uncovers a scandalous old letter from Tristant’s great uncle tucked away in a book, and the two boys begin a journey through journals and letters to discover the real Uncle Glenn and the secrets he hid from his family. And Tristant realizes that Elijah has been hiding something as well.
A secret that just might change everything.
I really enjoyed Jennifer Lavoie’s debut novel Andy Squared so when I saw this book on Netgalley I just knew I had to request it. I was over the moon when I was approved – thank you Bold Stroke Books!
Tristant and Elijah was a really sweet story about an out high-school boy called Tristant who, along with his long-time crush Elijah, uncovers a somewhat illicit-sounding letter in amongst his great-uncle’s belongings. The two boys are determined to uncover the secrets that Tristant’s uncle was hiding, and in the process of uncovering the truth, they both realize a little something about themselves as well.
This book was a really fantastic read. I really loved Tristant – how great is it to have a protagonist in a YA LGBT book not struggling with his sexuality? Don’t get me wrong, Tristant has his fair share of troubles. He has been pining after Elijah for years but always believed the other boy to be completely 100% straight. He also struggles with the fact that he is one of the only gay students at his high school (or so he thinks anyway!) and his lack of a love life sometimes gets him quite down.
Still, Tristant is a fairly well-adjusted young man who has a great relationship with his single mother and grandmother. Sure, he dreams of a life beyond his small, quaint town, but otherwise he is happy with who he is. It was really great to have a main character so secure in himself.
Elijah was also a great character. Behind his confidant façade, he is less sure of himself than Tristant, and struggles more with the usual issues you tend to come across in YA fiction. He struggles with his identity and hides a lot of himself from his peers. Even though Tristant was overall the more dynamic character (who doesn’t love a bookish, nerdy, quiet yet also snarky and self-assured protagonist?) I really related to Elijah and found his struggles to be both realistic and moving.
As for the meat of the story – the mystery behind Tristant’s great-uncle Glenn? Well I love a good mystery and the story that unfolded was both interesting and heart-breaking at the same time. I had an inkling where the story was going to go, so in that sense it was fairly predictable, but this insight had nothing to do with any lack in Jennifer Lavoie’s writing – rather it came from the fact that history has proven itself to be unfair and cruel to those who were considered to be outside of society’s norms at the time. While I am glad that progress has been made in the years since, still it doesn’t seem like enough.
I kept on expecting something devastating to happen in the present-day storyline, given what happens in the past. Luckily, my fears turned out to be unfounded. The two interwoven tales were brilliantly written by Jennifer Lavoie. She is an author that has impressed me and I will definitely be on the look-out for any future books she releases.