REVIEW: American Road Trip by Sarah Black
A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.
When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.
With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.
Dear Sarah Black,
I was so happy when I learned that you will have a new story out soon. I missed your writing. For the most part I really enjoyed this novella and your prose still sang to me.
The blurb gives you a good set up. Our main characters walked away from the military life three years ago after a young soldier under James’s (Jamie’s) command was badly hurt. Both guys were deeply in love with each other and they fell in love before realizing that they were both in the army and both ended up in the same platoon. Jamie was a captain and Easy Jacobs was the sergeant. The men walked away from the army and each other. Three years later Easy comes to seek Jamie’s help in finding Austin (the young soldier who got hurt three years ago) who went on a trip across America months ago and besides post-cards his family have not heard from him. Austin was also Easy’s cousin so Easy had a very personal interest in finding him.
“I turned the postcards over. Austin had written home about his trip: he was having a wonderful time, he was heading west, looking for America. He wasn’t going to stop until he had found America. His handwriting looked as bad as ever. “
Of course, despite being apart for three years James and Easy are still deeply in love, and the reader hopes almost right away with James that Easy’s arrival means that they will find their way back to each other.
“What was he doing here? If he’d wanted help with Austin, all he needed to do was call. Send me an email. But he came out here, and he climbed into my bed when I pointed into the bedroom. Did he come out here to find Austin, or to find me? We’d have to wade through a lot of hurt if he’d come out here for me. But the possibility made me feel like something in my chest was growing wings.”
Our guys are wonderful, honorable men who would do anything and everything to help a friend, literally would interrupt their lives if their help is needed and they devote their meager resources to search for Austin and search for Austin they do.
And I do not think I will spoil much if I say that yes, they do find their way back to each other. Have I believed in their connection? Yes, absolutely. We never even hear from Easy, James is the only one who narrates the story and I could feel their love for each other.
“He rolled over too, blinked sleepy eyes at me. He reached out, traced along my face, pushed stray hair behind my ear. His hands were tender, eyes so full of hope and love I felt like I was looking at a night sky full of stars. I blinked back the tears I couldn’t seem to control.”
The only comic relief in this novella (I felt that overall mood was quite dark) was a little unexpected for me. It mostly involved tiny dog named Tino. The dog belonged to Jamie’s grandmother. Jamie was taking care of her for six months before her death and she asked him to take care of Tino. Supposedly Tino was a source of constant irritation for Jamie, but one did not need to look hard for the evidence of how Jamie really felt and Easy fell for Tino right away. Of course they took Tino on their road trip and some hilarity ensued when people wondered how Tino lost his eye.
“I looked down in time to see Tino lift a leg on the base of a potted plant tucked into the corner of the reception area. I snatched his leash so hard he let out a squeak, tiny toenails skidding a bit when I dragged him across the tiles. “Did you see those fucking pine trees outside, Tino?” Easy opened the door for us. “He’s kind of got a blind spot about that dog, though.” “Poor little thing. How’d he lose his eye?” Easy reached for another donut. “Bar fight.””
“The man stopped, gave Tino an admiring look. “That’s a very little dog for hiking! He must be stronger than he looks!” He bent over, petting the tiny walnut head, then pulled his fingers back when Tino snarled at him. “What a sweetheart. How’d he lose his eye?” “Knitting needle,” I said. “He’s looking for a new home.””
““Go,” I said, pointing to a dried-up piece of tumbleweed. “I am at the end of my fucking rope with you. Pee or get off the pot.” Tino turned his back on me, raised a leg, and aimed in my direction. Pee or get off the pot? I was tired; I couldn’t even think up a decent metaphor for a little one-eyed shit of a dog.”
I really liked the story. I hope you will too.