Finding North by Carmen Jenner
“I hope I always feel like this. I want to always be right where we are now, my hand in his, freefalling. Not into the water, but into one another. But even twelve-year-old me knows that once North finds out my secret, this feeling, these butterflies torpedoing inside my gut, will all be ripped away, replaced with thorns, fear, hatred, and ugly words.”
Carmen Jenner is one phenomenally talented Australian author and when I realised that she had written a mm (male-male) romance novel I was shocked but not surprised. And only shocked because it wasn’t until I read the blurb that I realised it was about two guys … Carmen’s talent is boundless so I knew that if she wanted to write about two men falling in love, it’d be a fabulous story. And Finding North is certainly one incredible romance.
Will and North are best friends – well, were best friends until an incident that happened 12 years ago pushed them and their potential love apart. Will is openly gay; something that isn’t easy to do in a small steel mill country town in NSW, Australia. And North, he’s the one man that Will has truly loved and the one man who has the power to break Will’s heart over and over again. North has a lot of demons to battle when it comes to his sexuality, but the biggest is the fear of losing Will, if only he was brave enough to admit it. He’s not keen on labelling whatever it is he feels for Will, and herein lies the problem – because when you live in a town full of prejudiced, homophobic people, not making a decision about who you are can almost be as bad as identifying with a group that is (unfortunately) looked down upon.
“Everywhere I look it seems everyone is comfortable in their skin. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that—completely comfortable with who I am.”
Carmen treats the subject of gay romance, of love between two men, of homophobic behaviour and homophobia, with such respect and realism. My heart was in my throat for so much of this book and I spent a good portion of the second half with tears pricking my eyes. Will and North are characters you can’t help but fall in love with and I am no exception. Their story isn’t easy, it isn’t without heartache, it isn’t a comfortable read – but it’s a book about learning to love yourself, learning to accept that you can fall in love with a person regardless of their gender, and learning that there are some horrible people in this world but you can’t live your life for them, you have to live it for you.
I absolutely adore this book – words can’t adequately express how much I love it. Will and North are two men who won’t be leaving my heart and mind anytime soon.