Friday, November 11, 2011

Amy Lane - The Locker Room

The Locker RoomThe Locker Room by Amy Lane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is really only one thing I don't love about this book: the cover.

Okay, to elaborate...

I stumbled across this book purely by accident - and then almost didn't read it after one look at the cover, because really, I have at least 4 friends who could've done a better job. Actually, I could have done a better job. But you know what they say about not judging a book by its cover.

First off, I like the tone in which this book is written. It's a pretty slow paced, dry recounting of the story of two men who have shared almost all their life with each other. There's no flowery prose, no unneeded descriptions, no distractions from the actual story. But that does in no way mean that this book isn't interesting, quite the opposite.

I have to confess that I sometimes had to bite my fingers so I wouldn't comment on other reviews. Both those saying 'oh my god, how could they do that when they really love each other?!' as well as those swooning over soul mates and true love. Because it seems to me that those people haven't really thought about what they read.

To me, most M/M stories are light reading. Fun, but nothing that stays in mind for long - or even five minutes after finishing the book. Not so this one. I think this was the first one that really got me thinking about what I had just read.

It's a love story, yes. But it's not actually as romantic as some reviews would make you think.

There's one thing you need to keep in mind here: Xander was a victim of abuse and neglect, in fact he was on his way to starving when he and Chris first met. He was fourteen years old, and had already learned not to trust anybody but himself, because nobody, absolutely nobody else would ever stand up for him, or try to help. And he had learned that lesson well.

Chris and his family were the first and only ones who ever offered him any kind of comfort. Especially Chris, who somehow saw more in that awkward, silent, tall youth than others and wanted to be his friend.

So those two latched on to each other - Xander desperately needing a friend and someone he could trust, Chris desperately wanting to help Xander, but also depending on his calm stability. And they stayed together like that, through high school, through college, through their professional career. Becoming lovers was practically inevitable.
Can you say co-dependency? I'm sorry, but what is supposed to be so romantic about that?

They had to separate for six months, six months during which they could talk on the phone, via webcam, where they could visit each other - and they simply couldn't function like that. That's not actually romantic, that's not even especially healthy.

I'm not saying that they don't love each other, they do. But the readers really should put away those rose tinted glasses there.

The other part, people being outraged about them sleeping with women while being in a relationship and soul mates and so on, and how dare they?!

This isn't a fantasy novel. It's also not science fiction. It's a very realistic book, and in this reality for two NBA players to come out is pretty much unthinkable if they ever want to play again. That's the world we live in, like it or not. Add in the fact that aside from Chris, basketball was the only thing that kept Xander going during his childhood (and he had been playing ball long before he ever met Chris) and was one huge comfort zone to him which he wouldn't give up as long as he didn't really, absolutely have to - do I have to spell this out?

This whole outrage over them 'cheating' on each other is ridiculous to me. For one, it wasn't cheating. They were both doing it, they both knew about it, they talked about it before. All it would have taken was one of them saying stop. But they didn't, at least for a while, because with a coach always on their case and rumors starting about them in the team, what choice exactly did they have if they wanted to stay together and keep playing?

Like I said, there is a lot in this book to think about. It also makes me wonder just how many men and women are caught in such a situation, and hope that there'll be a time when being different will be, well, normal.

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