If you like kids in your romance you're in for a real treat here. Marketed as an mm romance but really a love story between a young man and his deaf child, you won't be able to resist 10 year old Noah and his dad Wiley.
Gay single dad Wiley is raising his deaf son in the Deep South of the U.S. Wiley's crazy, dysfunctional family tries but mostly fails to help him due to their conflicting religious beliefs. Noah is pining for the love of his mother who is due for release from prison and his maternal grandparents won't have anything to do with him. Despite that Wiley and Noah have an amazing relationship. Incredibly loving and full of that exuberance you often see between fathers and sons.
Although this book aims straight for the heartstrings (and succeeds) Noah feels very much like a real kid. He is not precocious at all. His suffering and anguish regarding his mother is heartbreaking. Every part of the story related to his deafness seems very true to life although I was surprised by the views on cochlear implants.
Wiley is vividly brought to life by the author. So loyal to his son and standing up for his beliefs even when hiding would be a lot easier. He has the most wicked Southern dialogue. It's surprising to realise at the end of the novel that all the sex scenes are fade to black because Wiley's dirty euphemisms, horny thoughts and tall tales make it seem more graphic than it is. Jackson, his love interest, describes him as looking and sounding like Daryl from the Walking Dead but with the soul of Kurt Cobain, and that definitely comes across in the story.
Jackson, the 'Yankee' is new in town and he falls for Wiley in a big way. His character is less clear than Wiley's. He seems like a good guy and perhaps even too perfect at first. So when he falls from grace it felt artificial. Another secondary character Juan was an obvious plot device with no reason to exist outside of the tension he created. But apart from that the romance between Wiley and Jackson has some great moments.
It might seem like a tearjerker from my review but it's very funny, often in a un-pc way. I loved all the music references and excerpts. There's a lot of conflict around religious and family issues but the story is definitely not anti-religion or anti-family. Quite the reverse actually.
From the author's dedication and afterword, and Wiley's writing skills, I get the impression some real life events may have inspired this story. If so I only want to say to the author, "Thanks for sharing".