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Estelle: Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

Where You Are By J.H. TrumbleWhere You Are by J.H. Trumble ( website | twitter )
Publication Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: Kensington Books
Pages: 316
Target audience: Adult/mature young adult
Keywords:  bullying, social media, LGBT, student/teacher relationships
Format read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Robert may be a star student, a popular addition to the marching band, and absolutely comfortable with his sexuality. But his dad is also deteriorating from cancer, his aunts are taking over his home, and his boyfriend never wants to touch him. At 24, Andrew is Robert’s calculus teacher. He’s a father to a young daughter, and does his best to keep his private life private. But for some reason, he can’t help but reach out to Robert, especially as he sees this bright student fading into the background. Will they both be able to maintain their respected boundaries?

When I wrote my review of J.H. Trumble’s Don’t Let Me Go in March, I wrote about how I kept thinking of the main characters of that story like they were people I had actually known in real life.

Fast forward almost nine months later, and I’m standing in a store parking lot in the freezing cold, on the brink of what is going to be a difficult two days for my family, and I am thinking about Robert and Andrew in the same way. What are they up to? What are they thinking? If they lived in my hometown, would I be calling them to hang out right now?

I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out how Trumble makes her characters so human — flaws and all — and I come up short every single time. Because it just happens. It is so natural how these characters live and breathe on the page, even when I disagree with their actions and especially when everything becomes right in their worlds.

For many of you, a little red flag is going to pop up when you see “student/teacher” relationship. I’m not here to talk about a moral code or the importance of maintaining boundaries. Because as soon as I started reading about Andrew and Robert, all of their labels seemed to dissipate and I was left with two young men who really cared for each other. Two men who needed each other in different ways, and two people who actively tried to keep themselves at a distance (time and time again).

One of the most fascinating details about these characters is just how differently they deal with their sexuality. Robert was very open, and frustrated with a boyfriend who would rather hang out with “his girls” and not bother to kiss him, while Andrew was very focused on keeping his private life private (those nosey teachers!), even if it meant allowing people to think he was attracted to women. As the novel goes on, this difference created many scenes of role reversal where Robert actually seems to be the older one and Andrew, the more giddy.

On the surface, Where You Are was this kind of epic love story but the author also developed complex and intertwining back stories that allow the reader  to dig deeper into these characters and help us to understand who they really are. I really loved Robert’s relationship with his mother (even the messy parts) and Andrew’s ex-wife, Maya, who always kept me guessing. (This is a good thing.) Trumble also skillfully integrated the influence of social media in our lives — from the accounts Andrew chooses to follow, secret fan pages, and a partner in bullying.

I read this book twice before I wrote the review (and I’ve only done that one other time this year with Marisa Calin’s Between You and Me) because I had to relive it again. I had to make sure I didn’t miss out on any one detail. Trumble has officially spoiled me with rich characters, feelings that make me feel everything, intricate details, the cool balance of family and school life, and a controversial topic that is dealt with so delicately and so passionately.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Trumble is an author to look out for.

(And I apologize in advance because if you react to this book like I did, you will not be able to get much done before you finish it.)

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September 24, 2013 - 9:00 am

Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble (Book Review) - […] Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble ( website | twitter ) Publication Date: September 24, 2013 Publisher: Kensington Pages: 320 Target audience: Mature YA/adult Keywords: marching band, HIV, romance, LGBT Format read: Paperback ARC from author. (Thanks!!) Other books I’ve reviewed by Trumble: Don’t Let Me Go | Where You Are […]

December 8, 2012 - 6:07 pm

VeganYANerds - Estelle, this sounds like a fantastic book and I have no issue with the student/teacher aspect at all. Your review is fantastic and I love that you were thinking of the characters as real people, that is a great indication of the strength of this story.

December 6, 2012 - 6:03 pm

Jamie - Never heard of this one but you have me interested!

December 4, 2012 - 1:27 pm

Alexa Y. - The fact that you’ve already reread this book is a sure sign that this is a GOOD book, at least to me. I’ve always trusted your opinion, and so far, our tastes have been pretty similar. I’m definitely going to read this!

December 4, 2012 - 11:33 am

Estelle - JH’s other book “Don’t Let Me Go” was also M/M. It’s some of the most honest writing I’ve read all year, and she just brings down the house with this second book. I hope you’ll check it out.

December 4, 2012 - 11:33 am

Estelle - Thank YOU so much for giving me these amazing characters. I can’t say it enough.

December 4, 2012 - 11:32 am

Estelle - You really have to. JH can just suck you in. 🙂

December 4, 2012 - 8:49 am

J.H. Trumble - Were-leopard? Cracking up!

December 4, 2012 - 8:28 am

Christina (A Reader of Fictions) - Oh wow, I so didn’t know Kensington published M/M romance! I have way more respect for them for being open about that. Most pubs won’t touch it. Also, this doesn’t have a truly ridiculous cover like the M/M romance publishers. Also, not a were-leopard in sight, so good work.

Glad you loved it!

December 4, 2012 - 6:01 am

J.H. Trumble - I may have to read that book! LOL. Thank you for that AMAZING review Estelle. I’m so glad you liked the book. I’m kind of fond of it myself!

December 3, 2012 - 10:27 pm

elena - What a wonderful review! You & my other friend absolutely love J.H. Trumble so I must check out her books soon. I do have Don’t Let Me Go currently checked out from the library but haven’t really been in a reading mood. Must rectify that!

December 3, 2012 - 1:05 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - Beautiful review & thanks for the heads up on the teacher-student warning and setting me at ease. I hadn’t heard a peep on this book. Thanks for putting it on my radar. I’ll definitely look out for it.

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