Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble
There are many good, enjoyable books out there; some of them you miss after the fact; however, the ones that grip you and stay with you long after seem far and few between. This book definitely belongs in that category.
To be honest, the first thing that jumped out at me with this book was the cover. I found it by accident under my Young Adult recs and I am so happy I did. Of course once I saw who the author was I was completely on board, having read Where You Are earlier this year and enjoyed that one thoroughly as well.
But this book, oh this book. What can I say except for the feels. Luke Chesser is such an endearing character. He is so easy to relate to and love. I know he gets a bad rap from Trumble’s previous novel in which he was a minor character, Don’t Let Me Go (which I didn’t even realize Luke was a part of. So, of course I had to read that, too) but haven’t we all been a Luke? Whatever our gender, age, or sexual orientation, we’ve probably fallen for someone unattainable and then met someone else who is just as amazing who we fall even harder for and head over heels in love with, and unlike the previous relationship, this one is meant to last. And yet, what happens when the person we love has had their world rocked with a life changing diagnosis, and won’t let us be there for them?
This is the question Just Between Us explores, and does it with aplomb. Luke’s dealing with a lot when he develops a rocky-at-first bond with Curtis Cameron. In short, he’s had his heart broken by a guy who was in love with someone else, and his father is abusive and homophobic. To say he is unsupportive of Luke’s life is an understatement. Add to that Luke can be a bit of klutz on the field with his marching band and you get a picture of how not perfect things are in the beginning of this book for Luke.
And then there’s Curtis. Charming, confident, older. A band legend. How could Luke not fall for him, and when the two get to know each other better, how could he not fall for Luke? But just as in life, love and relationships are never easy, which is something we see happen to Curtis and Luke.
Just as things are really blossoming between the two of them, Curtis gets devastating news. He’s HIV positive after having a little too much fun his freshman year of college. Suddenly Curtis pulls back from his loving family and Luke, ashamed of himself, afraid of hurting someone else, not able to come to grips with the fact that he still has a long life ahead of him, and doing everything in his power to ignore his situation.
It’s so painful to watch Curtis keep Luke an at arm’s length, especially when anyone can see how much they love each other. There were so many times I wanted to jump into the book and knock some sense into Curtis, but reading every emotion he was feeling, I couldn’t help but hurt for him.
Trumble brings us back to an important topic: HIV. For some reason we have stopped talking about it and even thinking about it, but this story is proof that the stigma still exists as does the virus.
In the end, we’re there with Luke and Curtis as they struggle to come to terms with their relationship and left moved at their resolution
It’s been over a month since I finished this book, and I’m still thinking about these two, rooting for them and wishing I could stay with them a bit longer in their world just to ensure they are happy and in love, because despite whatever hardships and obstacles a relationship may face, unconditional love is always beautiful and can bring forth a rainbow after the darkest of storms.
If you haven’t read this book, you should. Like, now. And while you’re at it, read DLMG and WYA, also by Trumble.