Book Review: The View From A Rusty Train Car By DeeJay Arens

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

“No one talks about what happens when you fall in love with the boy next door–not when you’re the boy living beside the boy next door.”

Jared didn’t want to do it, but it had to be done. Someone had to sit before the government hearing to explain why a gay man was nothing to be vilified, nothing to be hated or feared…that he was just a man. That is what Jared Montgomery is determined to do. He does so by sharing his story–his and Luke’s story–in the hopes that perhaps even just one more person could understand.

Luke and Jared were battling the odds from the beginning. Growing up beside each other, being best friends, they soon learned that if they wanted to share each others company, it had to be done in secret, in the confines of the old train car behind the junkyard. There they were free of the taunts and jibes the ridicule and hatred…or were they?

Unable to embrace who he is, unable to deal with the tactics used by his family to ‘cure’ him, Luke forces himself into a traditional marriage that is doomed from the start. His true, self-denied love for Jared, and the hatred surrounding it, is killing him. The question is, can Jared get to him before it is too late?

15839110I loved this 59 chapter book. It took me on an emotional rollercoaster with the ups and downs, highs and lows, heartache, devotion, and secrets that happened during Jared and Luke’s relationship. It was sweet how the story started off with them as kids; Jared’s family had just moved to the neighborhood. By the way Luke was very protective of him, I could sense that he liked Jared in a romantic sense, even though they called themselves “best friends.” The setting was through the 1990’s.

My favorite lines: 1) “One would think I’d be used to it, but it was disconcerting not knowing who was a friend or foe.” 2) “He’s not a husband. He’s a roommate.” 3) “Loving him wasn’t difficult. It was trying to create a life together that proved complicated.”

It broke my heart that their parents didn’t approve. As teenagers, they tried to hide their romance. Out of depression and trying to fit in with the norm, they avoided each other for a while. Luke even decided to date girls from their school, crushing Jared even more. I was disgusted with their parents’ behavior, with how they attempted to change their sons.

  • You can’t help who you love. I don’t understand why some people think being gay is wrong or shameful. Love isn’t wrong. Who cares if  it’s between two men, two women instead of a man and a woman. They aren’t hurting anyone. They just want to live their lives in peace and have a choice to marry, like straight couples. It boggles my mind that some people are so against it. I hate the way minorities are mistreated in this world…maybe that’s why I sympathized so much with this book.

The entire time I read, I thought of Jared as Carrie and Luke as Mr. Big. No matter how many times Luke broke his heart due to his confusion and self-denial, Jared would come back for more once Luke brought on the charm. It was sad when Luke’s mom sent him to one of those camps that deprogram gay males. No wonder Luke had issues-he was away for a year, never even got a chance to say goodbye.

I shed a tear of joy when Jared went to college in Seattle where he found Derek with the help of his friends. Finally, he was accepted and treated with respect.

  • I don’t know, I guess this section of the book touched me because I thought of all those bullied kids/teens. Since they have no one to turn to, they commit suicide. I wish they could hold on a little longer because things eventually get better. And this scene was proof of that.

It threw me for a loop who Luke ended up marrying. I thought it was very disrespectful to Jared and his family. I understood how that was the last straw for Jared. I liked that their classmate Phillip was the one who figured out their secret in high school ( he was another gay teen who hid in the closet because of fear). He had talked to Luke, convincing him to spend prom night with Jared. Then Phillip saw Jared on college campus, convincing him to talk to Luke again.

The author had an amazing talent with dialogue. The conversations intertwined with body language helped make all the scenes stand out. I loved all the arguments, self-discoveries, heart to heart talks; the dialogue was very realistic.

My favorite scenes: 1) prom night 2) when Jared tried to stop the wedding 3) the first time Luke gave Jared the nickname “Jed” 4) when Luke bought the train car for the memories 5) when everything came to light between Jared and his sister 6) the ending (I cried during this part; it was very touching).

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby