Title: Home Is A Fire
Author: Jordan Nasser
Publisher: XXVII Media
Release: 21st May 2015
Genre: M/M (contemporary)
Most people would look at Derek and say he’d made it in life. A fun job, a handsome boyfriend, and an exciting life in New York City. But one night, staring at his reflection in the window of the subway as it barrels down Lexington Avenue, Derek realizes he’s fooling himself—and everyone else, too.
Derek gets off the train and goes home. Only not home to his tiny Manhattan apartment, but home to Tennessee—which is definitely not NYC.
Home to his family—and to all the other people he knows, or thinks he knows, and who think they know him.
Home to football games, and dive bars, and high school buddies who have known him forever.
Home to old situations…and to new possibilities.
At turns lighthearted, poignant, and surprising, Home Is a Fire is a delightful read for anyone who believes that whoever said “You can’t go home again” was mistaken. It’s just not exactly how you pictured it.
Well, this was a very pleasant surprise for me indeed. A completely new author and a book I purchased some time ago because it looked interesting and with the best intentions to get around to reading it eventually. Well, it has only taken me the best part of six months but I’m delighted to say, better late than never, I'm so happy that I have now read this wonderful story.
The first thing I have to mention is the author’s narrative style. It was perfect for me, not overly flowery and descriptive but still enough there to set the scene and had me in its hold from the first chapter. A style that kept me wanting to read on without stopping, bringing all the characters to life, well larger than life really as they jumped off the page at me. A wonderful piece of writing.
We meet Derek in New York on a subway train reflecting about his life. Although everything around him is busy, everyone packed into a small space, his future husband is talking incessantly about their wedding plans, you can really feel Derek’s isolation among all this. He is paying no attention to anything, not even his future husband who could suck the air out of any confined space with his constant prattling. So even at the very beginning I’m thinking, “Geez guy, are you seriously gonna marry this one?” Well, it all boils over, he steps off the train at the next station without warning and on the spot decides to turn his life around. At first I was thinking maybe he’s just having a mid-life crisis but I reckon Derek is a little too young for that. But you could feel the suffocation he was experiencing in NY and this was killing him inside. Maybe it was a panic attack? It would have been perfectly understandable. But I loved this first chapter of the book and had me in its clutches from the get go.
Derek literally drops everything he has worked hard for in NY overnight and decides to return home. Leaving David and his life in NY high and dry. Home is in the South in Tennessee to be exact. The pull of the familiar has become overwhelming. Again this feeling of wanting to return home to the familiar is totally understandable but when you have been away for a long time nothing remains really the same for long or does it?
Once back home he moves in with his mum and Uncle Barry. Uncle Barry, his mother’s brother, has moved in since the death of his Aunt Janey and now they keep each other company. However, Uncle Barry has a few revelations up his sleeve which I’m not going into here as would be too spoilery but needless to say things are never what they seem to be. He falls back in with his old friends from high school, Bammy, Kit and Tommy and starts to feel the comfort zone of being back home. I just loved all these characters and Mr Nasser’s writing brings them wonderfully to life. I could feel the comfort of being surrounded by friends that have known you for such a long time that they probably know you better than you know yourself. He gets a job at the local high school where he was once a pupil himself and it is there he is confronted with Luke Walter, now the sports teacher, but the person who had bullied him as a child and had made his life a misery in school.
Is it easy to put these terrors of school behind us? Do we change as adults enough to let this go? Well, this is one of the obstacles that Derek has to overcome especially when he finds himself being attracted for no known reason to the guy. Luke, who had made his life a misery in school, is now turning into his heartthrob of a man. Is it reciprocal? Well, a sweet romance develops but the Southern culture is always making things difficult. Being a Brit I have never experienced it first hand but through the brilliant writing I could only too well imagine what it’s like. Basically, if you don’t talk about something it doesn’t exist. So that means there is a whole lot of not talking and non-existence going on. Luke is a complete closet case and this puts a strain on their ever increasing feelings for each other combined with their history.
Then Derek’s nemesis appears in the form of David from NY wanting to win him back. He is now caught between a rock and a hard place. Does he stay and try to make things work with Luke or patch things up with David and go back to New York? Well, the reader is left in no doubt as to which is the better option even if Derek can’t see it for himself. I just wanted to slap him and give him a wake up call. As to which path he chooses then I'll have to let you read the book. Although the choice is made for Derek in the end anway and he was only a hair’s breadth away from making the wrong one.
Derek is a drama teacher and at times could also be a bit of a drama queen. There are some really funny moments balanced out with some very poignant ones which makes a perfect mix. It never gets overly angsty but it is definitely not all fluffy and sickly sweet. It’s realistic, believable and above all a totally satisfying read. I guess this is what comes when an author writes about what he knows best and that is his own experiences.
Although light on the erotic side this did not detract in anyway from the wonderful story and romance being told. I for one don’t need constant bedroom scenes to keep me invested in a book and here the story lives from the dynamics of the characters. Their connection with each other, their shared history, all wrapped up in a Southern background. I' can’t attest to how authentic this is but it felt real to me and although Tennessee might not be the place to be openly gay in being a little provincial but there is a warmth and love among these people that isn’t to be found in any old, big, cold city. The second book is out The Fire Went Wild and I’ll definitely be reading the second instalment for sure.
This is a delightful story, wonderfully written with vibrant characters and a wonderful romance. To be honest (for me personally) I had the feeling it was like reading the gay version of Steel Magnolias, especially with all the Southern warmth, flare, love and friendship. It’s all about coming home, finding yourself again, finding your comfort zone in old friends and family. Basically getting back to your roots after you have been away and discovering, to quote Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, "There is no place like home." I LOVED the whole book from beginning to end!
Jordan Nasser Reads from Home Is A Fire
Meet Jordan Nasser
Jordan Nasser left his dream job behind and took the opportunity to re-examine his life—an experience he highly recommends if you ever have the chance. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, he was raised in the South before moving to New York City. He currently lives and writes in Stockholm, Sweden and Nice, France.
In his debut novel, Home Is a Fire, he drew upon his experiences growing up in the South. Outstanding reviews placed the book on the Amazon top ten rated LGBT fiction list. That storycontinues in his second novel, The Fire Went Wild.
Connect with Jordan
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