Title ~ Vivaldi in the Dark
Author ~ Matthew Metzger
Publisher ~ JMS Books
Genre ~ M/M (YA / Contemporary)
Rating ~ 5 Stars
Out-and-regretting-it comprehensive attendee Jayden Phillips turns his cast-iron plans for life upside-down by falling in love with private-school violinist Darren Peace, a sardonic boy with the craziest hair Jayden's ever seen.
But all is not what it seems, and Jayden's bullying problem becomes meaningless when he is confronted with what the music does to Darren. How do you stop a dangerous depression rooted in the same thing that makes someone what they are? Dark moods, blank apathy, and the undertow of self-loathing all simmer beneath Darren's dry and beautiful veneer, and Jayden feels powerless to stop them.
Then a mugging gone wrong takes the music forcibly away, and Jayden is finally given the chance to change Darren's life -- and, quite literally, his mind.
Why do I like YA? Well, it makes me remember that very first kiss, that sense of trepidation with your first real love, the emotional turmoil of being sixteen again. This book brings all those feelings together in one wonderful story.
Jayden is sixteen and is out at school. Due to this the ensuing bullying that he encounters is really quite horrible, but real. Teenagers can be so cruel to each other at times. After school he goes to meet his mum at the local theatre to get a lift home as she is involved in the local amateur theatrical society.
The theatre is also used for orchestra practice before Jayden’s mum’s theatre group by the pupils of another private school, St John’s. He wishes to get into the sixth form to take his A levels and have a better chance of getting into Cambridge University. He has a best friend Charley who I loved.
“What about St. John’s?” she suggested. “All boys, they’re bound to be gay.” “You can’t make gay people Charley.” “So why do single-sex schools churn out so many of them, huh?” “They don’t, it’s a myth.” “Yeah, right” She scoffed.One that Jayden is trying to pass the entrance test for. When he arrives one evening he hears the sound of a violin coming from downstairs so he goes to see. There he finds Darren practising alone after the orchestra practice. A friendship forms that leads to more.
Jayden’s eyes flicked almost imperceptibly to hi blazer. “St. John’s?” he ventured. “Yes. Are you gay?”Darren comes from a very well to do family where both parents are professionals and high achievers and due to this the expectations put on Darren are extreme and there is no real love. Jayden comes from a loving working class family and attends the local comprehensive school. However, the attraction is there and a relationship soon develops. As Charley puts it…
“He’s gay, you’re gay, what’s not to work out?” She sniffed and Jayden rolled his eyes.Although Jayden is out at school he still isn’t out at home. His parents are always constantly worried about the bullying he’s experiencing and often Jayden just refuses to tell them. When he does come out, his parents reactions are really one of love and support. This was such a lovely moment in the book, if only the parents of gay teenagers would handle the situation like Jayden’s. This was not the case for Darren when his parents later find out. Matthew writes with a great deal of sensitivity and you really get a feel for the insecurity going on inside.
He was shaking; his fingers were trembling in Mum’s. His chest hurt, and his face hurt, and he had the horrifying suspicion that he was about to cry. “I've been….I’ve been scared to tell you, but I can’t….I can’t just keep it quiet anymore and…..and I….” The quiet certainty – the unsaid support, even though he didn’t know yet, pushed Jayden over the edge, and he said exactly what Darren had said. “I’m gay,” he blurted out, and the first tears spilled over. “I’m gay, and I…I…” “oh, darling, come here,” Mum crooned, coming around the table to sit next to him and hug him. She hugged him a lot, but not like this, not pulling him right in to wrap her arms around him and squeeze all the hurt out.
This was one such beautiful moment from many. Well, his Dad’s reaction was great too and oh Jayden’s embarrassment of the parent talks about sex that followed after. I could just feel how Jayden was squirming listening to his Dad, but then his parents were fair, wiser and more mature. Some lovely moments here that brought a smile to my face.
However, Darren has a dark secret he suffers from depression. Possibly more common in teenagers than one would think. He has good days and really bad days where he withdraws into himself. In the past he also self-harmed but after going out with Jayden his depression seems to get better. Although it totally doesn’t go away and he has a number of bad spells. He eventually tells Jayden and through Jayden’s love and support manages to keep the worst at bay. Matthew writes with such sensitivity that if you have never suffered from depression, after reading this book I now have more of an understanding about how someone feels with this illness then I ever did before. Absolutely beautiful writing brings Darren’s feelings out and you can really feel for the poor lad. Oh I just wanted to hold him and make it all go away for him. Tell him it’ll be OK. But Jayden did a great job too which was very mature of him for his young years.
The object of Darren’s misery is actually his violin. It becomes a symbol of dark foreboding and every time he shuts himself off to practice, it’s usually a sign the depression is coming on. Therefore the title is very fitting, Vivaldi In The Dark. This situation is exacerbated by the pressure put on him to succeed by his parents. Although there is no love and support there, only worried about their careers they take no interest in Darren as a person. Here he finds solace with Jayden and his family. Darren’s parents are so distant and busy with their own lives they don’t notice what their son is going through. The only one who knows and is supportive of him and stands up to his parents for him is his older brother. The story closes on a very symbolic note with a hint of a HEA!
This book deals with a number of teenage problems and issues beautifully described, emotional and harrowing, especially when you are sixteen. I was enraptured by the writing from the very beginning. It flows beautifully, is coherent and a joy to read. It made me fear once again the horrible school bullies, it made me coy at the first touch of someone else’s body. The first sweet kiss with sparks flying and hormones racing, would I want to be a teenager again? No definitely not! But what sweet joy, so for all the Mums, Dads, teachers, carers and young at heart this book will be a real treat.
About The Author
Matthew J. Metzger – or Matt, as he is more generally known – is as much a character as the people in his books. Matt is a 23-year-old perpetual mess currently living in England, one of the bigger chunks of the United Kingdom. He writes on the side of life, given that most of it is devoted to his job (full-time suit wearer),his love of hiking (hills are there to be walked on), and paying the bills (alas, life). He has a generally busy life as an office drone, conman, and speaker of strange things. It is a somewhat satisfying existence.
Matt writes in most genres. His first novel, Our Last Summer, is a coming-of-age LGBT romance set near the hometown and experiences of Matt himself in the south of England. His second, Vivaldi in the Dark, deals with clinical depression, another area in which Matt arguably has a fair amount of experience. His hopeful third, Exosphere, is a science fiction novel about terrorism. Consistency is not a key characteristic of Matt or his author.
Contact The Author
Matthew will be giving away one ebook copy of Vivaldi In The Dark.
Just enter the draw below ~ good luck!!