Fragile Bones, though listed under general gay fiction, is not what I would call gay fiction. This is a story of human nature set in a creation-hell mythos, a story of the darkest sorts of human nature, and in one very important aspect, that two men undergo this dark journey together makes sense and is perfect for the story. In Fragile Bones, men have hurt men. Sure, a woman may have been responsible for abandoning the protagonist, Nathan, when he was a child, but ultimately, men are doing the hurting and it is men (a pair of them) who must heal each other. I find that very appropriate.
This is a very yin yang story. It’s about depression and self-loathing and the desire to be better, do better, despite it. It’s about how difficult it is to rise above the bad and how easy it is to succumb or worsen, or to give into anger and acts of violence rather than suffer further as a victim. The most wonderful thing about this story is how the author wove the plot together in a manner that makes the grim aspects of human nature bearable enough to read about.
At first, the narrative is somewhat disjointed because of incomplete sentences, but this suits the incoherent nature of the main character. Later on, the wording gets smoother, just as the protagonist becomes more aware and thoughtful. There is a lot of internal conflict in the narrative, but it’s balanced with the continuation of the plot. Every once in a while, the author throws in a bit of wry humour, which I liked. There is sexual tension exactly where it needs to be, but this isn’t a story about sex, not really.
I had a number of surprises while reading. Nathan and the partner in his journey aren’t easy on each other, and that’s as it should be. Overall, very worth reading. Kudos to the author for nailing the nuances of depression and self-loathing of a person mired in the history of his victimisation. More kudos for making this dark subject matter so readable.
Just in case you’re worried, Fragile Bones ends on a good note. This is a story of redemption, after all. :-)
(reviewed 30 days after purchase)