REVIEW: Back to You by Chris Scully
Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.
Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.
As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.
Dear Chris Scully,
I never tried your books before but after Ami whose reviewing opinions I value a great deal tweeted about you being her favorite author I was curious and asked book buddies on Amazon board to borrow your newest one, because I always enjoy mystery and suspense with romantic elements.
As my grade reflects, I had a mixed impression of this story. I thought it was well written and the guys together were really sweet, but romance was just a part of what the story claimed to be. And even while I really liked them in the present and in the past, I did not buy the long interval in between. As to the mystery and suspense, I had a whole lot of different issues with that storyline.
As the blurb tells you, Alex comes back to the town where he spent his childhood after many years because his father is dying and his sister asked him to come. Alex together with his sister and mother left town when he was thirteen after their parents divorced. His sister came back, but he basically never reconnected with his father, thinking his father did not care.
Alex also parted ways with his best friend Benji a/k/a/ Ben Morning. By the way, I had never been a fan of talking names and I got that Ben was a bright spot in Alex’s life even without last name “Morning.” Although Alex knew about Ben’s crush on him, Alex was still a bit confused. He seemed to know that he liked boys, but he also liked girls. I don’t blame a thirteen year old kid for being confused by the way. In any event all they had before Alex left was one kiss and Benji kissed him. They didn’t fight about it thank goodness, but neither did they have time to figure out what they really wanted and whether they wanted to be more than friends.
Twenty years passed and Alex is back. He came to see his father but he also wanted to see what happened to Benji.
And “twenty years passed” is the main problem I had with their romance. Granted, the author does pay lip service to the idea that it is ridiculous that Alex would be pining for the boy he left at thirteen no matter how good of the friends they were. And Alex says that his life was okay, he lived a relatively happy life, etc (paraphrasing here). However all of this is one short paragraph and the moment Alex sees adult Ben basically all the feelings come back rushing in.
Note that I would have had no problem with them actually getting to know each other all over again and *falling in love* now as adults. But that’s not what we get here in my opinion. Alex does not just fall in love with Ben all over again. He remembers what it was for both of them at thirteen and he talks about Benji being his home at thirteen and no matter how ridiculous it is to meet his soulmate at thirteen, he did.
I am sorry, but the writer here did not get through my suspension of disbelief here at all. Twenty years, twenty years after good friendship and one kiss was not enough to convince me. Even if they were childhood sweethearts, I needed more to be convinced that these particular childhood sweethearts just needed to see each other after twenty years and boom all the feelings came back.
As I said above, I thought Alex and Ben on page were very good actually, but unfortunately they did not exist in a vacuum in the present and I just didn’t buy the twenty year interval.
But you will ask me what about suspense storyline? Here is the set up. Ben’s sister Misty supposedly ran away twenty years ago and only very recently her abandoned car was found. Their mother always thought that her daughter had died, but now she’s asking questions again. Ben thinks the past should stay buried and that answers will only bring her more grief.
Reluctantly Alex starts to investigate on his own especially since his dying dad seems to bring up Misty’s name several times in the hospital.
I will not tell you what happened of course. However I will say that suspense really was not that suspenseful to me – maybe because of such small cast of characters or such very obvious hinting which was done very early in the narrative.