Robert Westfall's life is falling apart-everywhere but in math class.
That's the one place where problems always have a solution. But in the
world beyond high school, his father is terminally ill, his mother is
squabbling with his interfering aunts, his boyfriend is unsupportive,
and the career path that's been planned for him feels less appealing
by the day.
Robert's math teacher, Andrew McNelis, watches his best student
floundering, concerned but wary of crossing the line between
professional and personal. Gradually, Andrew becomes Robert's friend,
then his confidante. As the year progresses, their relationship-in
school and out of it-deepens and changes. And as hard as he tries to
resist, Andrew knows that he and Robert are edging into territory that
holds incalculable risks for both of them.
J.H. Trumble, author of the acclaimed Don't Let Me Go, explores a
controversial subject with extraordinary sensitivity and grace,
creating a deeply human and honest story of love, longing, and
~ MY REVIEW ~
~ 5 OF 5 WHERE YOU ARE ~
I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to Kensington Publishing for sending me this ARC. I read this book in eight hours and I have to say that I could not put it down. It is so AMAZING I have never read something so heart wrenching and so gut wrenching! I laughed and I cried and I screamed at the book because it was like I was there. Yes this story has some issues that people will say are not right but I say to them PISS OFF! This story is about a love, loss and everything in between when it comes to teens. It is also a story about love true raw unadulterated love between two guys. I loved this story and I just finished reading it and my head is so full with things to say and I am trying so hard not to place spoilers so I won't.
Where You Are is a story about about a young man named Robert whose father is dying of Cancer and Robert and his mother are trying to keep it together. It is his senior year in high school and Robert just wants to graduate and go on to college where he can live his life free of the guilt he carries in regards to his father. Robert loves school and when he starts to fall behind in math his math teacher decides to befriend him and help him stay on track. Robert also has to deal with the fact that his boyfriend is acting weirder by the minuet but that's okay because Robert knows that once he gets to college he will meet other guys and have other friendships and relationships. What Robert doesn't factor in this equation is falling in love with his math teacher.
As we all know teachers are forbidden to be with their students. That is a big no no and when Robert falls for his teacher Mr McNelis aka Drew he is not sure the teacher feels the same way. So when Mr McNelis and Robert start to get closer and and Drew consoles him after his father dies Robert knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with him. Drew is not sure how he and Robert are going to be together but he knows he wants no one else in his life. Then if life could not add anymore lemons to Robert and Drews lemonade something big happens to Drew and he and Robert have to figure out a way to be together.
To Andrew teaching is his life. He loves to help students and he loves to give back by teaching. His life has not always been easy but he has always had his best friend by his side and with his best friend he has created the one bright spot in his life and that is his daughter. Once he realized he was gay he decided to divorce his best friend and just go back to being friends with her for the sake of his daughter. He loves her and will do anything to make her happy. So when he opens up to Robert he is terrified by his feelings because Robert is a student and he is his teacher. But what are you to do when you have such strong feelings for someone that you feel like you could die if you don't see them? Andrew will have to figure all this out and then he will have to make decisions that will make him or break him. What will Andrew decide?
They will face prejudices and they will face trials and tribulations. Are they strong enough to stand up to the people who mean to do them harm? Is Andrew strong enough to fight the feelings he has for Robert? Will Robert fight his feelings for Andrew? Come along with Robert and Andrew as they find their way through this maze called life. This book is BRILLIANT! 2012 MUST READ!
~INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT WESTFALL AND ANDREW MCNELIS ~
I am so EXCITED to have Robert and Andrew here on A Diary Of A Book Addict. Guy’s thank you so much for stopping by and sharing with your loyal readers. I have to say that your story is totally EPIC! I love how you guys met and fell in love. It is never easy falling in love and especially in your case it was very hard. Andrew I love how you thought about everything in advance and how you tried very hard to do the right thing and in the end the things you guys went through created this EPIC story.
Robert what was your first thoughts running through your mind when you saw Andrew? Andrew what were your first thoughts about Robert?
Robert: I admired Mr. Mac from the very beginning. He was kind of nerdy, funny, fair, nice to look at. Very nice to look at, in fact.
Andrew: Robert was a great kid—nice-looking, popular. But more than that, he was a great student, the kind of student that makes teaching such a pleasure.
Andrew did you ever think you would fall in love with one of your students?
Andrew: Absolutely not.
Robert did you ever think you would fall for a teacher?
Robert: I never thought about it. But I didn’t fall for a teacher; I fell for Andrew. The fact that he was also my teacher was just a challenge that we had to overcome.
Robert can you tell us why you really started dating Whore-Hay (NIC)?
Robert: You’ll read the whole story in Just Between Us (October 2013). But suffice it to say that Nic could be pretty sweet when he wanted to be. And I found him amusing, for awhile, that is.
Andrew can you tell us the real story behind what happened between you and Kevin? What he did to you emotionally?
Andrew: I don’t know that it was what he did to me that left me scarred, so much as it was how ashamed and stupid I felt in believing we had anything real between us. In the end I was humiliated and hated myself for letting him use me that way.
Robert can you tell us what happened between you and Luke when you were sort of dating?
Robert: You’ll read all about it in Just Between Us, but the bottom line is . . . nothing much. Mostly we just hung out together and talked about Curtis. I always kind of hoped Luke would see that Curtis was a lost cause and maybe the two of us could make a go of it. In the end, things just didn’t work out that way. Despite the challenges that threatened to derail their relationship before it even got off the ground, they were meant for each other. I feel like Andrew and I were meant for each other as well.
When did you guys realize you cared for each other more than friends?
Andrew: That moment at the fountain at SHSU when Robert really opened his heart to me for the first time and I saw the pain there. I just wanted to take him in my arms and make it all better.
Robert: From that day he sat down with me and helped me through my calculus test. I already knew, but I never dreamed it would ever happen.
Andrew why didn’t you reach out to Robert after the charges had been dropped?
Andrew: I almost did. I wanted to. But he hadn’t rendezvoused with me on his birthday, and he hadn’t tried to get in touch with me as far as I knew. Maya told me I’d destroyed his life. I guess all those things together, I just felt like it would be better for him if I disappeared. He had a bright future ahead of him. I was a nothing, a nobody. It wasn’t until I saw his reaction to me in the vet clinic that summer that I realized there was something very real between us, and he knew it too.
Andrew when did you realize Maya was manipulating you?
Andrew: Wow. I think I knew the very night she asked me to move back. But I was scared, and manipulation or not, I saw safety with her. Maya had been subtly manipulating me since we were teenagers. I don’t blame her; I blame myself for not keeping the boundaries firmly in place. But I don’t regret having my little girl. Things work out.
Robert when Andrew left to move back home did you think you lost him for good?
Robert: I didn’t know he’d moved back until I came to the house for my music therapy group session and there he was. I did think I’d lost him for good the night my dad died. I went to his apartment to tell him. He wouldn’t even let me inside.
This is the last question but the most important one everyone is dying to know but are you guys going to get married?
Andrew: I don’t know. Dr. Westfall, what do you think?
Robert: Perhaps we should discuss this matter alone, Mr. McNelis. And you can call me doctor after I graduate.
Andrew (grinning): I wouldn’t miss that graduation for anything in the world.
Robert: You damn well better not. That “glaze” on a whiteboard won’t buy you forgiveness a second time.
Andrew: You have to admit, I keep my promises.
Robert (flicking his eyebrows): That you do. (Clears throat and nods to the door.) I think we should continue this discussion in private.
Thank you guys for joining me and your fans and sharing some personal things with us! We really appreciate it and we wish you guys a happy life :)
~ Where You Are ~
You still here?
I’m giving a makeup test.
Crap! Stop by when you’re done.
I close Jen’s e-mail and check the time in the corner of my computer screen—ten minutes—then glance up at Robert Westfall again. He’s resting his cheek on his fist now and absently doodling in the margins of his test. My heart breaks for him, and I find myself wondering what’s showing at the cinema in his head. Memories of hanging out with his dad—maybe playing catch in the backyard, learning to swim at a neighborhood pool, pushing a lawnmower for the first time. Or maybe it’s the moment he got the news yesterday, an endless loop of shock, terror, sadness. Or is it some future flick about life without a father?
I pick up my red pen again and straighten the stack of tests in front of me, but I don’t grade any of them. I just watch him.
I knew something was going on. It was just a feeling, this sense that he was off balance and couldn’t quite get his feet under him. And now as I watch him struggle with a calculus test that he’d methodically tear up any other day, I’m struck with the desire to reach out to him; I’m just not sure how.
It’s funny really. I’m not usually this intuitive. While I’d like to believe that I’m in sync with my students, that I know when they’re having a bad day or when their hormones are raging and they’ve chosen to indulge their impulses instead of doing their homework or studying, I’m not.
My freshman Algebra kids are so squirrely that all my energy goes into maintaining order and keeping those classes moving forward. My senior AP Calculus students, on the other hand, have a laser focus on that end-of-course exam. I challenge them academically; they challenge me. If anybody’s having a bad day in that class, I guess they keep it to themselves.
But with Robert, I knew. He still turned in his homework. He paid attention. He even answered questions when I asked them. But he’s been quieter. More introspective, I think. Just not himself.
He rubs at his eye with the heel of his hand and attempts to focus on the problems again, but he looks perplexed, as if I’ve written the test in hieroglyphics and he just can’t quite translate the problems.
Yesterday, his absence, that empty desk in the front row, pricked at my conscience. I thought about calling to make sure he was okay. I even retrieved his phone number. But I didn’t call. Kids are absent—they get sick, they oversleep, they skip. The motivation to make that phone call seemed pretty thin. But Robert’s not one of those kids. His absence was noteworthy and it bothered me more than it probably should have.
I turn back to my computer and scroll through the day’s e-mail—notices of meetings scheduled and meetings canceled, an it’s-still-not-too-late-to-sign-up invitation to Saturday night’s school Christmas party (No, thank you.), a few eleventh-hour pleas from parents for extra-credit work, and a reminder that grades are due at three o’clock Friday afternoon. The high priority makes Ms. Lincoln’s e-mail easy to spot.
To: Fabiola Cortez, Bob Benson, Annet Nguyen, Richard Gorman, Susan Weatherford, Andrew McNelis, Bette Flowers
From: Lynn Lincoln
Subject: Robert Westfall
As you may already know, Robert Westfall’s father has been battling brain cancer for the past ten years. Yesterday the family received some devastating news. Mr. Westfall’s illness is terminal. According to Mrs. Westfall, the doctors estimate that Robert’s father may have only three to four weeks. Understandably, this is a difficult time for the family. It is likely that Robert’s attendance may become intermittent during the next few months. Please be flexible in your expectations and offer him whatever accommodations are necessary to get him through this time. If you see that he is struggling emotionally, or if you have any concerns at all, please contact me. Thank you as always for all you do for our students.
Twelfth Grade Counselor
Poor kid. I check the time again. Fifteen minutes now. I push back my chair and get up. It’s my day to pick up Kiki, and I have a feeling that I could sit here with Robert for another fifteen hours, and he’d still be doodling in the margins.
In fact, he’s so caught up in his head that he doesn’t notice me approach or say his name. When I place my hand on his shoulder, he jumps.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
His eyes fall on the test in front of him and he seems surprised that he’s only addressed a couple of the questions. “Oh, shit,” he mutters. Then immediately follows that with an apology for his language.
“It’s okay.” I pull a desk up close to his and sit. “A rough day yesterday?”
“Yeah. Pretty rough,” he says quietly.
“Anything I can do?”
He looks up at me, and his eyes seem to search mine like he’s measuring the sincerity of my question. Suddenly I have a feeling the one thing this kid needs is the one thing I can’t give him—a hug or maybe a friend he can really talk to.
“No,” he says, palming the back of his neck. “But thanks.”
“You look tired.” Depressed is what I’m really thinking. When he doesn’t respond, I decide to make one of those accommodations Ms. Lincoln spoke of. “You know, you don’t have to take this test,” I say, reaching for it. “I’m not worried about your mastery of this unit. You’ve mastered it. I can just double your last—”
“No. I can take the test,” he says, flattening his hand on the paper to hold it in place. I notice he’s not wearing a class ring.
“Okay. But, you know, I have a daughter. She’s going to be pretty upset if I don’t pick her up from her day care before dark.”
He drops his head and then, suddenly agitated, runs his hand over his short blond hair a few times, then sighs heavily. “I’m sorry, Mr. Mac.” He grips his pencil and punches down the lead a few clicks. “I’ll have it done in a few minutes.”
A few minutes? I don’t think so. Not even for Robert. “It’s okay.” I give him what I hope is a reassuring smile. “I have some time. How about I walk you through the test? Maybe that will help you focus.”
I don’t wait for him to answer. I collect a pencil and a few sheets of printer paper from my desk and sit back down. On the blank paper, I quickly review the first section, then wait while he works through the set of problems. I guess something about me sitting there with him chases away the distractions—he’s quick and he’s precise, making his marks with his distinct handwriting, which is tiny but highly legible.
When he’s finished, he twists his head up to me.
“Nicely done,” I say, smiling. It feels good when he smiles back.
I place a big check mark over the section, and we move on to the next. While Robert is working, I find myself studying his face—the straight line of his nose, the freckle at the base of his neatly trimmed sideburn, the stray blond hairs on his jaw that he missed shaving this morning—and I can’t help wishing that I’d known him when I was in high school.
Aside from the fact that he’s a stellar student and a nice-looking kid, here’s what I know about Robert:
1. He’s a member of the band guard. The only male member in fact. I might not have known this—I don’t attend football games. No time with school and grad classes in the fall, and Kiki—but it seems to be an endless source of amusement for Jennifer.
2. He has a boyfriend. Nicholas Taylor—Nic—cheerleader, ditzy blond, ghetto queen, Whore-Hay. All the kids call him that. Jorge, Whore-Hay. It’s the year-round, fluorescent-lamp-enhanced tan, I think. I honestly don’t get what Robert sees in Nic. The kid’s a pretentious, over-the-top, party boy. Not his type at all.
3. Robert is one hell of a brave kid. (See numbers 1 and 2.) I’d never have had the courage to be 100 percent O-U-T in high school. And he’s not just Out; he’s got that quiet confidence that draws other kids to him. I don’t know if he knows it, but he does a lot to bring skeptics into the fold on our campus. You just can’t not like him or respect him.
And right now, I can’t not look at him.
When he finishes the set, he looks up at me, and I drop my eyes to the test and make a quick assessment of his answers.
Another big check mark and we move on. The next set is a little more challenging. I force myself to focus on this work. A couple of times he missteps, but a quick uh-uh from me makes him stop, rethink, erase, then move forward on the right track.
The last section is the trickiest, and I get a kick out of watching him wrestle with the problems. He looks at me a couple of times, but I just raise my brows and shrug. He takes that as a challenge. I don’t help him on this section, so when he missteps, he finds himself in a tangle and has to back up. I’m proud of him when he finishes the last problem and slides the test across his desk to mine.
“I knew you could do it.”
“You did, huh?”
I check that section, then close the test and scrawl a big 100 across the top before I look back at him. “Yeah, I did.”
We enjoy a moment of what I think is mutual admiration, and then I clap him on the shoulder and take the test with me back to my desk.
Robert stands, stretches, then grabs his letter jacket off the back of the desk chair as I enter his grade in the computer. I’d like to close out my grade book, but I have some Algebra kids who are under water and need a lifeline, which I will attempt to provide over the next couple of days before grades are due.
As he leans down to zip up his backpack, I take a quick inventory of the letters on his jacket—academics, band, guard, choir. They should give letters for courage too.
He grabs his backpack by the strap and shoulders it, but seems reluctant to leave.
“I’m really sorry about your dad. How are you holding up?” I ask, coming around the desk. I lean against it and slide my hands in my pockets.
He chews on his bottom lip a moment, then says, “I don’t even know how to answer that, Mr. Mac.”
How do I respond to that? I hate this. They don’t train us for this kind of stuff. There are things I want to convey to him: I’m here for you if you need to talk. I know what it’s like to lose someone. But all that sticks in my throat, because the truth is, I’m a teacher—not a friend, not a counselor. And I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone; my own parents are safe and sound in Oklahoma. I’ve not lost a single person in my life, not permanently at least. Besides, does he even want my sympathy? Kids can be so hard to read.
Jennifer Went makes my indecision moot when she chooses that moment to stick her head in the door.
“Oh. You’re done,” she says.
“Yeah,” I say as she steps into the room. Robert mumbles a thank you, hitches up his backpack, and slips past her and out the door.
“They’re making them big these days, aren’t they?” she says, sticking her head back out the door to watch him go. “Mmm-mmm. He’s a hottie.”
“You’re not going all Mary Kay Letourneau on me, are you?”
“I don’t know. I might be willing to spend a few years in prison for a few minutes in heaven with that one—”
“Arrgghh. Kidding, right?”
“—even if he is a little light on his feet,” she finishes, then laughs.
I ignore the slur.
“So, how about I buy you a Frappuccino?” she asks brightly.
I already know that buy you a Frappuccino is just code for read my next chapter. Jennifer fancies herself a romance author. Her college roommate put herself through school writing erotica. Jen sees no reason she can’t get herself out of school writing romance.
I suspect she fancies me as well. I mean, what could be more attractive than a twenty-four-year-old, divorced high school teacher with a two-year-old, a student-loan debt that rivals the GNP of any number of small nations, an efficiency apartment, and a six-year-old Civic with a crack in the windshield.
“I’ve got Kiki,” I say.
“Aaaah. Bring her too.”
~ The Where You Are Playlist ~
This playlist is available on iTunes Ping: http://itun.es/isx6QR. Or visit iTunes Ping and search J. H. Trumble.
Music has a way of transporting you back to a time, a place, a moment. These are the songs that I imagine will always remind Andrew and Robert of the year they found each other. You’ll recognize many of them from the story.
“Boys Don’t Cry,” Plumb
Robert struggles with his relationship with his father.
“Music Again,” Adam Lambert
Texting with Robert makes Andrew feel alive.
Falling in love.
“Cupid Shuffle,” Cupid
Dancing in the band hall.
“Stereo Hearts,” Gym Class Heroes (feat. Adam Levine)
Andrew shows his stuff in the parking lot.
“What About Love,” Heart
Andrew puts on the brakes and devastates Robert.
“Dirty Little Secret,” The All-American Rejects
Giving in to love.
“Down on Me,” Jeremih & 50 Cent
Dancing in a club downtown.
“Low,” Flo Rida (feat. T-Pain)
Robert dances dirty hip-hop on the bed.
“Redbone Hound,” Idgy Vaughn
A real date.
“Edge of Glory,” Lady Gaga
Sheer happiness before the fall.
“Not Afraid,” Eminem
Facing the future together.
J.H. Trumble is a Texas native and graduate of Sam Houston State University.
You can visit the author online:
~OTHER BOOKS BY J.H. TRUMBLE ~
Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, honest, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.
But when Adam graduates and takes an Off-Broadway job in New York—at Nate’s insistence—that certainty begins to flicker. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it is the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.
J.H. Trumble’s debut, DON’T LET ME GO, is a witty, beautifully written novel that is both a sweet story of love and long-distance relationships, and a timely discourse about bullying, bigotry, and hate in high schools.
~MY REVIEW ~
~ 5 OF 5 DON'T LET ME GO ~
Don't Let Me Go is one of those stories that will stay with you long after you have read it. I read this book in one day on Saturday October 06, 2012 and I have to say it has taken me this long to write the review for several reasons. The first being I do not want to put to many spoilers in it because I hate when I really want to read a book and then I look it up on goodreads and there is the ending right there. The second reason is because Adam's character really and I mean REALLY PISSED ME OFF!!!!!!!!!! Never ever has a character brought out that much anger in me. Then thirdly my mind could not shut this book and the characters out. I kept doing this instant replay and then I would be folding the clothes or watching TV and my mind would wander back to Nate then to Luke and then to Daniel. I even found myself listening to the playlist all weekend and trying to imagine how certain characters felt.
This is a story for all Gay and Lesbian and transsexuals to read. It is about love and loss and hate and finding out whop you are in this difficult part of your life. As if being a teenager was not bad enough add on to it that you are gay and are scared to death to come out because you don't know what is going to happen. Nate has always known he is gay and he just wants to get through high school and get to college where he can meet a nice boy to date. Where he can be free to be himself and act how he wants and not have to worry about his family and friends condemning him.
Only Nate gets a surprise when he meets another boy Adam at his school. Adam is a senior and he is best friends with Jules who is in love with Nate. They start hanging out together and before you know it Adam tells Nate he likes him. As the two discover their mutual feelings for one another they have to make a decision on whether or not they will come out of the closet or stay in there. They decide to come out of the closet and have an open relationship and it costs them. One of them will be brutally attacked and the other will be left to pick up the pieces and try and keep their relationship together.
After this tragedy that has happened Nate and Adam are even closer. They are Ying and Yang. Soon though there relationship will be tested and tried and one of them will experience life differently than the other. See Adam is going to New York and Nate has given him his blessing. Even though Nate does not want Adam to leave he will let him leave so he can find his way in life and Nate wants Adam to have everything. Nate does not want to hold Adam back because he does not want Adam to look back and say you held me back from pursuing my dreams. So Nate lets Adam go to New York and Adam promises to come back for holidays.
Nate still being in high school misses Adam so much. They went from spending everyday together to only phone calls at first and then skypeing and then nothing. Something changes for Adam and Nate is left wondering what is going on. Then Nate meets Daniel at the music store and they quickly become friends. Daniel has a secret of his own and starts to hang out with Nate even though everyone thinks they are dating they are just friends. They become best friends and that shocks Nate because being gay means you can't have any boys that are friends because it means you want them in a sexual way. Such small mindedness on the account of the guys because gay does not mean they want every guy.
So Nate and Daniel become quick friends and Daniel helps Nate start a blog to vent his frustration of being gay and being separated from Adam. At first it is innocent and then Nate encourages other people who are gay or lesbian to come out of the closet and be who they want to be with no worries. That is when Nate meets one of his blog followers and they get close. Nate encourages him to be open with his sexuality preference. As this other boy learns to come out of the closet he and Nate start dating and Nate realizes what it is like to be the other boy because he was just like him until Adam showed him how to live life as he wanted to. As Nate and this other boy start hanging out and testing the boundaries Nate has to come to grips with what his relationship with Adam really is.
There are so many twists and turns in this story that even as I write this review I am crying. Nate and Adam have to come to terms with what has happened between the two of them. Adam will have to truly dig deep and see what it is he wants out of Nate. Nate will find himself and he will learn to stand up on his own with no one to help. Nate will find a friendship that means a lot to him and he will experience love outside of Adam that scares him.
Don't Let Me Go causes you to look at love and relationships in a new light. How is it that you love someone so much you put your whole life on hold for them? How is it that a new relationship can open your eyes and make you see what you had in front of you may have been a lie. J.H. has done a EPIC job with this story. I love Nate, Adam, Luke, Daniel, and Jules!
1 COPY OF WHERE YOU ARE
Just leave a comment telling me about your first true love and what you would have done to be with that person. The winner will be chosen at Random. Please make sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you.