Title : Dear Diary, Book 1
Author : Allison Cassatta
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 90 pages (e-book)
Published : May 8, 2013
Rating : ★★★★
Chris Bishop has everything a high school senior could want—a loving family, a perfect girlfriend, and a bright, shining future. At his dad’s suggestion, he spends a summer working at a law firm to gain experience, but he never bargained on meeting Josh. Josh is handsome and green-eyed and just what Chris doesn’t want—or does he? Some things Chris has admitted only to his digital diary, but by the time prom comes around, he needs to make a decision: risk the pain of honesty about himself and his feelings for Josh, or play it safe and lose what matters most.
Chris is getting ready to attend the teenagers’ right of passage – the school prom. While he doesn’t really see it as significant himself, it’s important to his mother. So he’s putting on a tux and going through the ritual. But before that he has something else to do. Something that is more important to him by far. Chris needs to commit the story of his summer love to his digital diary via the hand-held recorder his father gave him. That summer, he discovered both love and a part of himself that he hadn’t even realised was there.
“See, this past summer, I met Josh and he…” Chris let out a deep, contented sigh. “He changed everything, opened up something in me I never knew existed. He made me feel things I’d never felt before.”
This is essentially a diary entry – as, on the day of his prom, Chris tells of his summer romance, the one that made him realise that he’s gay – yet it’s predominately told in third person (with the diary entries themselves told in first person POV). You’d think that it would seem strange, but for the most part it does work. The constant interruptions to Chris’ narrative into his digital diary is somewhat frustrating, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! A little anticipation can pique your curiosity. And that’s exactly what it did for me. I wanted to know what happened with Josh over the summer! How did their relationship bloom and develop? How did Chris come the realisation he was gay? How did he react? The third person POV gives the reader a more rounded sense of who Chris is, as we see his interactions with his family. His little sister is a cutie mischief maker and his parents have a wicked sense of humour! Although I sometimes wondered if this may have been better told in a regular third person, storytelling format, the diary idea does give the reader a sense of immediacy. It helps to intensify the story and focus on Chris’ feelings as he discovers a part of himself he hadn’t even realised was there.
There was a bit of a tendency for Chris’ dictation to slip into a more authorial narrative and not how an eighteen year old would likely speak, yet at I think she nailed the grand sweeping declarations that teenagers are apt to make when they’re in love. And there is the odd contradiction. When Chris is describing his first kiss with Josh, he compared it to those with Sarah, saying that they’d always been nothing more than a friendly peck, completely innocent. Yet earlier, Chris had said that even he and Sarah’s deep, tongue-twisting kisses had always lacked passion. And, okay, I don’t know how common a term Jimmy is for penis in the states, but it was used waaaay too much. The end had a lovely twist and left me with the thought that this was Chris’s moment of true acceptance, that the reader was invited to share. This entry into his digital diary. It was powerful and almost made me forget he isn’t actually a real person!
I would love to see this developed into a full length novel and have the opportunity to really get to know all the characters, because I really liked them. It would have been nice to see more of Chris and Josh’s interactions together. I feel that I never really got to know Josh as well as I’d have liked. Even so, I thought this was a very enjoyable, feel-good story and, despite a couple of minor things, I thought it was well written. Sweet and gentle with a couple of surprises. For all its short length (it’s on the shorter end of novella), the author creates a great connection with the characters. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next one. I’m also eager to explore other works by this talented author.
Rated 4 stars by BookSmitten