This book is at first glance just another story about gay men struggling with their sexuality and having to come to grips with the reality of hate in a world that isn't ready for them. The themes are pretty familiar, hate, bashing, support and colorful rainbows. Jamie is a character that wears his heart on his sleeve and often goes up on a soapbox to tell you his beliefs.
Far beyond just a gay romance, "CRUSH" is a vastly emotional portrait of two human beings who, like all of us, are in search of love and trying to figure out who they are. What struck me is the raw honesty with which the author writes as she creates these characters. They are not saints or angels, but they are not monsters either. They are simply people. And not everything about them is lovable.
I could definitely relate to the characters. They each resembled someone I have known. They are alive and beautiful, and their story, while on the surface seems very familiar, even cliched at times, struck me with its originality. It's deceptively simple premise conceals an astonishingly complex and intricate odyssey through the heartbreak of child abuse, the loss of identity, the miracle of love, and the recovery of self. What sets "CRUSH" apart from other gay stories is that instead of flamboyant, glamorous guys who frequent gay nightclubs, you have two ordinary everyday guys who are simply struggling to survive. There are some very erotic moments, but where other gay fiction seems to lack emotional impact, "Crush" feels supremely, almost unbearably emotional, going far beyond ordinary shallow sexuality and going where most fear to tread, deep into the recesses of the childhood and adulthood closets, where the skeletons that dictate our behaviors lurk. You can't help but wonder if Jamie will ever conquer the horror that his parents left him in, or if Tammy will ever fully have Jamie's trust, and vice versa.
There will be those who feel that the book provides an unfair depiction of Christians. I didn't really feel that. I felt that Jamie and Tammy were just frustrated and rejected by the faith they were raised in. All through the book they seek answers from a higher power, and I found that quite touching.
All in all, I enjoyed reading "CRUSH." It is a different and refreshing m/m gay story.