Title: Junction X
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing
Characters: Edward Johnson, Alexander Charles
POV: 1st Person
Set in the very English suburbia of 1962 where everyone has tidy front gardens and lace curtains, Junction X is the story of Edward Johnson, who ostensibly has the perfect life: A beautiful house, a great job, an attractive wife and two well-mannered children. The trouble is he’s been lying to himself all of his life. And first love, when it does come, hits him and hits him hard. Who is the object of his passion? The teenaged son of the new neighbours.
Edward’s world is about to go to hell.
Edward Johnson’s life is like a play in which he moves about, taking direction from the rules of society, doing what is expected of him—dutiful husband, dedicated father, diligent employee. But offstage, there is a prompter whispering lines to Ed that he isn’t sure he wants to hear, nor does he know what they mean for him and for his outwardly perfect suburban existence. Those lines direct Ed away from his wife and children, aiming him toward a life that can never be but a life that he wants so desperately he’s willing to risk everything to grab hold of it, if only for a moment. They are lines that teach him the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone, with utter disregard for the rules of the game.
Erastes has written a beautiful and tragic love story, haunting, turbulent, and at times, transcendent. The story is told by Edward in retrospect, as he recounts the events of his initial meeting and subsequent relationship with Alex Charles, the teenage boy next door. Forbidden love, impossible circumstances, and the voice of a man who, with the benefit of hindsight, struggles with the guilt of every action and decision he made over the course of a year, lends a sense of foreboding to the narrative, an atmosphere Erastes capitalizes on exquisitely all the way to the very tragic end of the tale.
As a character study, a psychological exploration of a man living in the 60s who is hemmed in by his feelings not only for another man but for a young man who is still considered a child in the eyes of society and the law, the tone of the story is at once heartbreaking and oppressive. This is a story of realism, a story that never sugar coats the fact that life is an unscripted, unpredictable game of fate, and the ending isn’t always a promise of hope. This is a story that proves, in no uncertain terms, that what happens behind the façade of the perfect, predictable life is oftentimes a very different picture than what we allow people to see.
Junction X is, simply put, a supremely heart rending tale of an ill fated romance, skillfully portrayed and perfectly poignant.
Reviewed By: Lisa