Don’t Let Me Go
It has been quite some time since gay literature has seen the likes of a character as genuine as Nate Schaper, the irritatingly lovable narrator of J.H. Trumble’s highly engaging debut novel, "Don’t Let Me Go."
Nate is a teenager from Texas who is fortunate enough to meet his soul mate, Adam, during his junior year of high school. The following year, his luck appears to be running out when Adam jets off to New York to star in an Off-Broadway play.
From the moment Adam’s plane pulls away from the gate, Nate feels abandoned and neglected, but above all, angry at himself for encouraging him to go rather than begging him to stay. Although they’ve been together for less than a year, their relationship has overcome more than its share of trials and tribulations.
First, Juliet, Adam’s gal pal, busts in on the lip-locked couple, much to her surprise since she was dating Nate at the time. In addition, Nate’s emotionally distant father disowns him altogether when he comes out and tries to introduce Adam as his boyfriend. Furthermore, bringing their relationship out in the open proves to be not without dire consequence when both young men fall victim to a brutal hate crime.
Given what Nate and Adam have endured, and at so young an age no less, the reader can’t help but root for them, which makes it especially heartbreaking when they seemingly begin to grow apart.
Feeling lonely and jealous (he is a teenager, after all), Nate tries to occupy his time as an activist of sorts, blogging about life as his high school’s only openly gay senior. His online rants soon acquaint him with Luke, a closeted sophomore in need of Nate’s guidance and friendship who becomes a hindrance to his strained relationship with Adam.
Nate’s behavior, albeit frustrating, is relatable and arguably typical of a young gay male who wants to be an adult yet acknowledges--if only to himself--how fragile and childlike he really is. The author has crafted a truly unforgettable character who is unapologetically neurotic, remarkably candid and hopelessly yet adorably smitten. Despite making some certainly questionable choices, Nate’s unbridled affection for Adam is a model for romantics of any age.
"Don’t Let Me Go" is a particularly important novel because it tackles issues of acceptance, harassment and responsibility. A relevant message coupled with a charming teen romance makes this debut novel a true champion.
"Don’t Let Me Go"
by J.H. Trumble