On a day like today, the impact of this book, and of the underlying message, become particularly poignant and meaningful. I really haven't read any other stories in the genre that address the gay immigrant/citizenship, and I doubt that if they did they could do it so well. So, upgraded rating. Perhaps partially out of sentimentality, but more so because this is one of those stories that stuck with me. Orrantia really wrote a lasting and touching story.
Some really fantastic reviews have been written about this book and, in a way, they all hit the nail on the head. I won't link to them because there are unfortunately few reviews on the books so find them yourself. Please forgive the cheesiness if the following :)
This is not a romance
In the traditional sense of the word this story does not represent a male/male romance. Readers who are looking to find the stereo typical relationship where one finds a potential partner, sees a slow growth in the relationship, and finally finds "true love " will be disappointed.
This is a romance
At it's heart, the story is all about love. Romantic love, spiritual love, familial love, and love you find with your friends. The relationships shown were surprisingly (and hauntingly) real, with no easy fixes or castles in the sky. While troubled, they were solid- they were what we all struggle through day to day. And the main love story - the romantic one, was heartbreaking and lovely. The reader can almost touch or converse with the characters, they were so realistic.
I loved most of this book, although I had a quibble or two. Still, one thing I can't get away from is the author's voice. The tone of the book was melancholy but hopeful and the voice was lyrical. Even knowing throughout the story what the outcome would be, I couldn't help but hope for what I wanted to happen- something I attribute entirely to the author and his skill. I liked the story quite a lot, but what will bring me back to this author is his voice.
Eric Orrantia is one of those authors that breathes life into the setting of his book. The surroundings are so vivid, so real, they drive the story rather than provide a backdrop. I reveled in the places and activities (festivals) explored in this story.
All in all, I definitely recommend this story and I will certainly read more by this author. Just.... For you m/m lovers, read the reviews and adjust your expectations accordingly. The story is like real life, there are happy endings like you find in fairy tales, and there are the 'happy' endings we sometimes see in real life.