Title: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut
Author: R. Cooper
Length: 113 Pages
At a Glance: Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut is such an incredibly sweet novella. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a quick romantic pick-me-up.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Jerry Candelario, known as Potts to almost everyone, has spent his entire adult life focused on raising his siblings and his niece. But the home he fought hard to make feels empty since everyone has grown up and moved out, and his precious baby niece is now a teen with a life of her own. With fewer people at the dinner table every night, Jerry suddenly has all the time in the world to think about what he wants.
For years, Jerry has kept to himself, never going to college, never dating or doing anything with his evenings except getting lost in a book. But although he pushed aside his longing for community and romance, he never stopped imagining the freedom he might have in a distant someday.
Then kind, clever, and out Lincoln Lee opened a bakery in Jerry’s small town. Jerry told himself he was lucky when they became friends. He was too busy to try for a relationship, and someone like Lincoln would never want someone like him anyway. But now that Jerry’s nights are free, all he wants to do is spend them with Lincoln. Jerry knows nothing about gay culture, or dating, or being in love. With Lincoln, he wants to try, but is he making a fool of himself or is his someday finally here?
Review: Jericho Candelario has made a habit of not asking for what he wants. He already knows he won’t get it anyway, and fears he might get something worse just because he’s dared to ask for something for himself. When Jerry finally says, “I want,” to Lincoln Lee, they are the truest and bravest words Jerry has ever spoken.
Jericho has spent his entire adult life taking care of his family. His father is a recovering alcoholic who suffers from PTSD. His sister and closest confidante Susana and his teenage niece, Sofia, compromise the entirety of his life’s focus now that his youngest brother and sister are grown and off to college, and he and Susanna work to make sure their shrinking family is whole and happy in the absence of the mother who deserted them (and much good riddance to her). That leaves little to no time for Jerry to have a life of his own. For that matter, he hasn’t even allowed himself time to embrace being gay. The only small pleasures he’s given himself are the trips to the bakery he’s made for the past five years to see Lincoln—the man who makes Jerry want so much more than what he has.
Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut is such an incredibly sweet novella. Jerry’s kindness is eclipsed only by his commitment to his family. He’s so self-effacing, in fact, that he doesn’t even realize how all the little things he does has endeared him to people. His relationship with Sofia is so special—the reason he still wears his curls longer gave me all the feels—and it’s she who eventually gives her uncle the courage to do more than merely exist from day to day. But it’s his longing for something more and seeing Lincoln Lee as an unattainable dream that tugged so hard at my heartstrings.
Lincoln’s patience and hope that Jerry would see him as something more than just a friend was such a touching reminder of the poignance of unrequited love and affection, when friendship and maybe a little flirting have to be enough, because it’s better than not having that person in your life at all. R. Cooper captured this to a T. Every heady sensation of falling in love is caught and set free on the page. Jericho’s embarrassment over being a virgin at the age of thirty-four, let alone inexperienced in what it means to even be in a relationship, allows Lincoln to just shine and be awesome and grab on to the awareness that Jerry finally wants to be his. Their joy at finding their way to each other was everything lovely about a shiny new romance, the fizzy warm feelings and racing heartbeats and every breath that feels like too much and at the same time not enough.
Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut is a warm and engaging little friends-to-lovers romance, one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend for a quick romantic pick-me-up.
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