Book: Everyday History
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication date: June 29, 2016
Length: 352 pages
Reviewed by Morningstar
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
This is not just a story about a young man trying to figure out his sexuality. This isn’t a story about growing up and experiencing life to make sure you are ready for the tough things, the commitment things, the- you are my world- things. This is a story about a man who sees history in everything we touch, cherish, and have by our side through the everyday life. The picture of you and your best friend on your very first vacation together, the tea kettle that’s been handed down generation after generation in your family, or the hat your mom made you for the cold winter in your favorite color. This story not only shows us that love can persevere through distance and time but that our history is embedded in the very things we live with everyday.
Reuben is that guy we all knew in high school. The cocky, beautiful, popular guy that oozed charisma. But through the course of an internship something changed. Oh he was still beautiful and charismatic but some of that cockiness disappeared in the face of a major change in his sexuality. A change that made him unsure, naive, and enraptured with his teacher.
“His exuberance is incandescent. He doesn’t simply enter the classroom, he radiates into it, vibrant
with life, as though fueled by an energy source of pure dazzle.”
Henry is smart, like I will make you love history without even knowing smart. On the surface he is exactly what you expect a history professor to be. Shy, wears glasses, tweed vest, ironed shirts...typical. Henry is anything but typical and lives with a secret of his past that holds him back in life and love. A past that literally sends him into panic at the mention of it. But after one weekend, a year after they met, Reuben brings him to life. This sends Henry on a course that changes his life.
“This feeling of awakening grows all through winter’s fear and into spring's tortured taunt.
By May’s countdown to the end of Reuben’s time as my student and his subsequent catapult away to college… I require him to leave. I ache for to him leave. To please just go.”
There is literally so much I LOVED about this story. Alice Archer writing style is somewhat poetic but not. It is unique style that helped make me love these two characters, The Historian and The Explorer, as Alice calls them in her book. You know how when you’re reading and a quote or paragraph catches you and you want to highlight it to remind you later of that part? I was so engrossed in this story I couldn’t even THINK to highlight anything but if I did most of the book would’ve been highlighted!
“Leaning into you and kissing you with all our clothes on that night was a million times better
than any other kiss I’d ever had.”
I loved how she took Reuben on a journey of self-discovery that didn’t just take one week or one month but took time to slowly build to a place where he knew who he was and what he wanted. Where he was so sure of that in the end you never questioned whether someone his age could know. Henry, being the older of the two, definitely changed the least amount but he knew what he wanted in a relationship sense but what his discovery and journey was about what himself. Showing him he was more than his past, more than his last relationship, more than just the “typical” historian.
Even though through most of the book Henry and Reuben are not together the special way that Alice Archer writes this story with Henry’s articles, Reuben’s reactions to those articles, Henry’s letters to his cousin, Reuben’s experiences in love, and finally Reuben’s fight to get to Henry; she makes you feel like they are on this journey together. I will not lie and say this was an easy read because it most certainly was not. It wasn’t the most angsty read I’ve ever read but it was painful, heartbreaking, and soul hurting kind of read that I love! The ending...that ending is worth EVERYTHING! I was on the edge of my seat until the very moment the happy started because this author doesn’t let you, the reader, off easy. Doesn’t let you believe it’s all so easy and all tied up, she makes you work for that happy ending where you aren't sure if there is going to be one until it happens. Anticipation of what is to come is always the best!
I read this book in one night. One very long night that turned into morning. One night that had me on such an emotional rollercoaster I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to end to get to what I had hoped was the happy ending or for it to go on forever because it made me feel so much. One night that changed how I look at my everyday histories. That one night turned into days of emotional recovery and days of being able to gather my thoughts to write this review. This is the kind of book that makes me want to be a reader, makes me addicted to stories, and puts me in awe of authors.
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