“What form does the haint of a ruined life take?” — K.Z. Snow
Title: Resurrection Man
Author: K.Z. Snow
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Bad enough Elijah Colter’s life of comfort comes to an abrupt end when he’s 17 and his family discovers he’s gay. Bad enough he must live out of his car and turn tricks. But when his perfect boyfriend, Alonzo, becomes the victim of a drive-by shooting, Elijah plummets into suicidal depression. The concepts of trust and hope become more alien to him than ever.
All that keeps Elijah going is a promise he made: that he would look after Alonzo’s stepdad, Dizzy, who’s on the verge of losing his house.
Diz and his young guardian become companions in homelessness — until Elijah discovers a program for throwaway LGBT youth. Through it he gets his own apartment … but loses it after a year. He’s kept his promise, though, and until he can get back on his feet, he’s resigned to joining Dizzy in the abandoned factory the older man calls home.
One fall day, a pair of new presences in Elijah’s life begin to shape his future: Michael Hanlan, an outreach volunteer, and what seems to be Alonzo’s ghost. Both prompt Elijah to decide which of his dreams to pursue, which to cast aside, and just how much he can dare to believe in love, and in himself, again.
Review: What form does the haint of an extraordinary novel take? Is it the obsessive need that lingers and makes you want to read the book again, long before the final words have had the chance to grow cold in your memory? Is it the inability to move on to the next book because you know it wouldn’t be fair, as everything else is sure to pale in comparison, at least until you’ve slaked your obsession? This is the haint of K.Z. Snow’s Resurrection Man, a book so absorbing in its simplicity and haunting in its emotional complexity that I could neither put it down nor put it behind me until I’d read it again, some passages multiple times, over the course of several days.
Resurrection Man is a story of the human condition. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? It’s a story we’ve all read in contemporary genre romance before, because that’s what all the books in this genre are, really—the stories we relate to because they encompass what it means to be human. Elijah Colter is the every-boy in this novel, who’s been thrown away for the sin of being gay and does what he has to do in order to survive.
Alonzo Morales-Barry is the every-man in this novel, who’s seen a throw away teenager doing what he must do to keep food in his belly and a dry place to sleep in his sights. He manages to do the right thing for the wrong reason—giving the homeless boy a roof over his head because the man likes what he sees, though he never bothers to look beyond the surface to encourage all the untapped potential lurking just beneath that boy’s beautiful skin, leaving Elijah little more than the husk of a human after he, Alonzo, is shot in a drive-by.
Michael Hanlan is the everyday hero in this novel, who comes along and works his small miracles simply by caring, by being kind and encouraging, by seeing all the worth and promise in a young man whose single biggest flaw in his twenty brief years was to fall in love. Michael is the man for whom promises are more than words, he’s the man who knows when to walk away and when to stay and fight for what he believes in, and he’s the man who not only sees but wants to mine all that untapped potential Elijah possesses.
But here is where Resurrection Man transcends so many others of its kind in the romance genre. Resurrection Man is not the story of the knight in shining armor who storms the gates of Elijah’s castle to rescue him from his own demons. This is the story of a man who quietly enters Elijah’s life and simply by being there, makes Elijah want to rescue himself. This is where K.Z. Snow takes a novel that could have been filled with overworked stereotypes and tired clichés, and transforms it into the story of a young man who has faced some of the worst life has to offer, and gives him the courage and strength and power to rise from the wreckage of his circumstances and, yes, his own choices, to want to live for himself, to be the sort of man who can stand on his own two feet while standing beside Michael as his partner, and to live for the sake of lifting up those who are even less fortunate than himself.
If there is anything at all typical about this book, it’s only that it’s written in a style that’s quintessentially K.Z. Snow. Every sentence brings the story to life, there’s not a superfluous word or scene throughout the narrative, nor is there a single moment in Resurrection Man that feels gratuitous or disingenuous. Although, I won’t lie—there were moments amongst the falling in love with these characters that Elijah didn’t make it easy and Michael made the heartbreak nearly unbearable, but those small bits of torture amongst all the beauty that is this book were so much more than worth the journey to see these two men reach a happy ending that worked for them.
Up until this moment, I could have made a short list of my favorite K.Z. Snow books, and any one of them could have come in at number one. That spot now, however, is held by Resurrection Man. It may not fully eclipse them all, but this novel most definitely stands in a class by itself.
You can buy Resurrection Man here: