Title: Train to Somewhere
Author: Susan Laine
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Charlie, Will
Sub-Genre: Contemporary / New Adult
At a party one night, Charlie Dean’s childhood friend Will Tucker accepts a dare and dresses up as a girl: clothes, hair, makeup. Seeing Will that way incites a riot of confused emotions in Charlie—and he responds by lashing out. He never meant to hurt Will, and now he must do some serious damage control.
During a school trip by train, Charlie and Will share a sleeper cabin. Charlie intends to mend fences, while Will figures it’s as good a time as any to broach the subjects of attraction and sexuality. They want to get their relationship back on track. But after the secrets they both reveal, their friendship can never be the same.
I tend to wander between adult, new adult, and young adult LGBT novels when I read. The different audiences means that the approaches to topics will vary, but when they’re handled with care and consideration, it makes for a wonderful book. This is the case with Train to Somewhere, which takes on the sexuality of two best friends and allows them to work through what labels might best define them.
The main focus of the book is on Charlie and his best friend Will. The moment that triggers the plot is a party that takes place near the beginning, where Will has to complete a dare chosen by their female friends. The dare turns out to be wearing feminine attire, complete with make-up, and the sight of Will all dolled up like this causes a very primal and angry reaction in Charlie. And while apologies and acceptances are passed around in the aftermath, there is still a lingering sense of unfinished business, and that’s what leads us to the main plot a week later.
Most of the rest of the book takes place on a train, where Charlie and Will and their classmates are headed out on a forty-hour train ride in order to go to a ski lodge for a class trip. And while their classmates are stuck in bunk-beds, Charlie has sprung for a private room for Will and himself. Good thing, too, because they have a lot to talk about and figure out.
Over the course of the journey, the two of them talk about labels, Will does some more visual experiments with feminine presentation, and they discuss what Charlie’s reaction might have meant in terms of attraction. It really was a thoughtful and caring story-line that showed two friends learning about each other and themselves.
And the book managed to detour from what I see most often, where the two best friends fall in love and are together forever afterward. For Charlie and Will, it takes time for them to grow up and find their own identifies before they can focus on the one who brings them the most happiness. I liked that they were able to do this, because in the end they could be sure of who they were and what they wanted in their lives.
Train to Somewhere is the third book in the Before…and After series:
- After the Romance Novel
- Kissing Lessons
- Train to Somewhere
While I haven’t read the prior two, based on the amount of joy Train to Somewhere gave me, I might have to go back and read the prior installments. And I look forward to what Susan Laine has for us next!
Reviewed By: Kimberly
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