Title: The Story of Us
Author: Barbara Elsborg
Length: 435 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
At a Glance: The Story of Us is a beautiful story, one that you will not be able to put down, a glorious victory of love over despair, of happiness over pain. I highly recommend it to you.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Two boys. One love. Ten summers.
Are you okay?
The first words Zed says to Caspian, and the first time someone has cared about the answer. On a hot summer’s day, the lives of two boys are changed forever. A rebel and a risk taker, Caspian doesn’t give a damn for the consequences. Studious and obedient, Zed is the good boy who is never good enough.
The two couldn’t be more different, but there’s one thing they share, a need to belong to someone who understands them, someone who cares. Their friendship goes deeper than either can possibly imagine. They’re young, in love, and planning their future when an act of betrayal tears them apart.
Fate deals its hand. Seasons pass. Zed’s words follow Caspian through pain, fear and into the darkest of places. Friendships can last a lifetime, even when the world conspires to crush them. But this is more than friendship. This is love and they’re not going to let it slip through their fingers.
Warning: The Story of Us is a tale of love and survival, and the triumph of good over evil against the odds. It’s a new adult contemporary romance that deals with family and social issues. There is violence and cruelty to children but not sexual assault. The story has sexual situations, dark elements and suspense. The events and locations are a mixture of real and fictional. The characters are fictional.
Review: Author Barbara Elsborg has simply outdone herself with her latest release, The Story of Us. Tackling a first love trope spanning over ten years is a daunting task, but then creating a story that blends drama, heartbreak and trauma ups the ante considerably. I must say that Ms. Elsborg handles every one of those facets completely and does so with such realism that this story takes on a life of its own.
I want to limit this synopsis mainly because I feel to delve too deeply will give away the story and weaken the devastating nature of the many elements that both keep these two young men apart and yet strengthen their resolve to be together. Suffice it to say that there is a happy ever after for Zed and Caspian, and it is perhaps the hardest fought and won HEA ever to grace the written page. Two boys meet in the woods—one is a physically abused Muslim boy whose mother had been the only buffer between him and an angry, aggressive father. Zed has been waiting for his sixteenth birthday in order to be able to leave his father’s home and never return. But, until that time he must contend with physical and verbal abuse, a brother who hovers on the cusp of religious fanaticism, making him a less than a solid safe harbor, and a life that has more secrets than one young man should have, including the most devastating one—he is gay.
On the other side of town is a boy whose life appears to be the complete antithesis of Zed’s. Never wanting for any material needs, Caspian fears being the failure his father always reminds him he is. Being dyslexic and unable to succeed at school, Caspian thwarts the system whenever and wherever he can, causing him to be tossed from more than one private academy. Home after being thrown out once again, Caspian has been informed it will be a quasi-military institution to which he will return after summer break. All he has ever wanted is to design machines; some of his ideas are definitely out there but others have real game, but despite that, his father has tossed one soul-crushing insult after another at Caspian, causing him to feel that he is doomed to fail.
Two boys meet…they kiss…and slowly they fall in love for the first time. When, after yet another beating, Zed is of the age to run away, he goes to Caspian and they make plans to flee. However, cruel fate is not done with this pair and a tragic accident, a horrifying coverup, a planned terrorist attack, and years locked away will challenge every feeling these boys have for each other. Now the only question is, will their love be strong enough to survive it all and triumph?
I cannot begin to catalogue all the reasons this novel should be on your read list. This is a new adult novel and, as such, there is on-page sex, although that is really a sidebar to the incredible plot twists that continually unfold in this angsty drama. It is most definitely a romance, but one with all kinds of delayed gratification. It is also gut-wrenching, for what happens to these two young men is truly staggering. More than once I had to put this book down just to breathe and assure myself that there would be a happy ending for these guys. Because I have to tell you, that idea often seems so far away that it takes all your strength to push through. But, oh my, the payoff in the end is magnificent and worth every tissue you will undoubtedly use.
The strength both Caspian and Zed exhibit is herculean in its magnitude. You will find yourself weeping for them on more than one occasion and gnashing your teeth just to get a chance at their fathers, whom I wanted to see die some horribly painful deaths. The hell these two go through, the horrible situations they are placed in at such a young age, the distance and emotional wreckage they must overcome in order to stay together, is all just overwhelming at times. Time and circumstances will threaten their love more than once, and then self-doubt, guilt, and depression will be the nails in the coffin that nearly destroys them. But…but…despite all that—despite the pain, the loss, the danger and the darkness—there is always hope and trust and love, such incredible love.
It is often said that those things worth having are worth fighting for. This novel takes that statement and amplifies it a hundredfold. The Story of Us is rife with pain, trauma and even shades of despair, but the glory, the triumph of a love that not only lasts but also defeats the darkness, is the real winner in this novel. It is a beautiful story, one that you will not be able to put down, a glorious victory of love over despair, of happiness over pain. I highly recommend it to you.
You can buy The Story of Us here:
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