- Reviewed by: Erin and Scott
- Print Length: 333 pages
- Posting: Coming to know one’s self
- Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 1 edition (August 10, 2014)
- Book Provided by: Author
- Author: Wade Kelly
- Posting Date: August 20, 2014
- Rating: 4 Star from Erin and 5 Star from Scott
The Female Review:
Labels. Nick mostly ignored them, but he was covered in them. Labeled a “man whore” by a regular customer at the pizza joint where he works cuts Nick deeper than he thought. But it was true- he slept with every girl he could and even a boy. But that didn’t make him gay right? Sleeping with just one guy?
Nick’s life was pretty cushy. Coasted through school, worked at a pizza place, still lived at home with his parents, partied with the same group of people since high school. Until a co-worker noticed a customer checking Nick out. At a glance, Nick turned up his nose. Judging by appearances alone, this guy was not one of the “pretty ones”. Nick ignored him and continued working. But the guy kept coming in. Never saying much, just ordering his food and eating his lunch. Until one day when Nick had nowhere to sit on his lunch break and “Scruffy Dude” offered to share his table.
This guy was not someone Nick would normally hang out with. Overweight, long hair, nasty beard, acne, torn clothes. But something was making Nick want to be friends with him. Hanging out with RC (as his name was) makes Nick take a look at his life. Who his friends really are, what kind of relationships he has, and mostly discovering his true sexuality.
Honestly, when I started this book I wasn’t quite sure. The pace was very frenetic and jumpy. After a bit though, I realized that the pace of the book was just like Nick. A bit ADHD, but funny. As it went on, the pace slowed a bit, but stayed true to what it was. The pace matured as Nick matured.
With the help of his friends, old and new, Nick examines his life. He finally is really to let go of labels holding him back, and embrace labels that move him forward. There every step of the way is RC, waiting for Nick to grow up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Book hangover from reading it in one sitting. YA/coming of age/ gay romance…..it has it all. I would have enjoyed hearing more about Nick and Corey instead of jumping ahead in time and just referring back to it.
Overall, excellent book, great story, and ***spoiler alert*** HEA
The Male Review:
Have you ever read one of those books that just made you smile and laugh? Names Can Never Hurt Me is one such book. This book is about Nick and his journey about sexual discovery and he matures along the way. I get asked quite often about what books that I recommend and quite honestly that is a hard question to answer. There are so many books and authors that write them, that each book is individual in their own way. I have a good friend Tracy that has made it one of her missions to help today’s youths by being there for them, many times she recommends books that may be helpful if they are struggling with their sexuality. Tracy if you are reading this, Names Can Never Hurt Me would be a really wonderful resource.
Like I said earlier this book is about Nick. He is the quintessential “god” of a man. He has the looks, confidence and the swagger that has made him the popular young man that he is. Here’s the thing though, what cost did Nick pay, for the way that he turned out by this popularity? Is it a good thing that he is self centered and destined to not have a relationship that lasts more than a few months? Nick is a lady’s man and has not met anyone that didn’t want to sleep with him and that includes a “twink” named Corey.
Let’s talk about the Title and how it fits into the story. Names Can Never Hurt Me, this statement rings true in Nick’s life and this book is about Nick, so the title is appropriate. But Names really can hurt people, and that was most evident in the character of RC. I can’t tell you much because it would be a spoiler but the Names that RC was called while growing up really did a number on him. You could say that in his case they hurt like Hell. The mix of personality between Nick and RC was so well written and I think it was because the entire book was written in 1st person, it was entirely Nick’s POV.
Wade had messaged me about the Blog post that she was writing and I mentioned to her that I really liked the book and I thought that writing it in the 1st person was briliant, well I actually said “fricking brilliant”. She held my attention throughout the whole book. This book is definitely a story, you won’t find full on sex scenes in every chapter, this book was very much about the journey that Nick took to self awareness. I don’t mean that in the “hey I’m gay now” which he sort of does but not really. The story is about Nick’s awareness of what he had become and if continued how it would be detrimental. It is about Nick growing up, becoming an adult. I was able to get in to Nick’s head and see his life through his eyes, which was really cool except when he was reminiscing about the sex he had with the girls, I had to step out of his head for that 🙂 .
If you want an excellent “Coming to Know One’s Self” book, this is it.
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The Book Description:
What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way?
Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led to much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.
When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear, RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.
Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.
The Social Links:
The Author Guest Blog:
The Blog Tour has been a difficult one for me because it is hard enough to think of something interesting enough to talk about several days a week, let alone several things to talk about that are all related to Names Can Never Hurt Me and yet are different in their own right. AHHH! My brain! So when I messaged Scott and asked about the blog tour and he mentioned some thoughts he had about NAMES as he was reading it, he inspired my topic for you today. Thank you Scott!
POV!!!! Something every story has, but can take on a new meaning with each book. There are books written in 1st person, 3rd person, and on the odd occasion 2nd person. I did read one like that once and it was well done, but very hard to get used to. Kudos to authors who can pull it off.
Some of you have read my books and have noticed that I use both 1st and 3rd. (Sometimes in the same book!) Why do I do this? Um, I guess because I like to mix things up. When Love Is Not Enough was the first time I dabbled in 1st person. I did it with Jamie’s journal entries. Most of that book was 3rd person, and mixing in the journal entries added a personal touch in my opinion. I think it helped give the readers a deeper sense of connection to his character as they read his thoughts. The books starts out with Jamie writing:
April 16, 2004
I punched Joey Taylor for calling my dad a loser. I got suspended, and now I have to write down my feeellliiings. FUCK!!! I’d rather punch something.
May 21, 2004
I don’t know why I have to write down my fucking thoughts. What if I don’t have any thoughts?
School’s out. Fucking Hallelujah!
My dad says he has to move again. I feel bad for him. My mom tells me I can’t visit until he gets his house shit figured out. That totally blows. I miss my dad.
August 14, 2004
Happy fucking birthday to me!
I thought turning sixteen would be a big deal for me. Like maybe my mom would view it as some sort of rite of passage and she’d treat me different. I guess that only applies to girls, or to moms who give a shit. Obviously my mom couldn’t care less. She sent me to my dad’s this weekend: no presents, no cake.
I think that 1st person can often put the reader into the head of the character that often 3rd person can not. I’m not saying you can’t, I’m saying 1st person takes on a different feel.
Names Can Never Hurt Me is the first book I wrote in ONE POINT OF VIEW! Previously, I have flipped back and forth depending on the character and I wanted to show readers I was capable of being consistently in ONE HEAD. Nick Jones’ head to be precise.
One commentator wrote that he liked the simplistic nature of my writing. GOOD! Nick is somewhat simple-minded. I tried very hard to sound that way when I wrote. Plain, simple, straightforward, and hopefully I also portrayed his forgetfulness well. I tried to write as I felt Nick would think. (Although I do write rather simplistically anyway.) Getting into the head of the character as I go helps me to see through his eyes and react as he might. Even if you hate the character and want to scream at him, he needs to be true to who he is. He also has to work his way out of it. I can not simply write him miraculously changed into this really awesome guy. I can’t. He has to earn it and grow. Seeing into his mind and following his confusion and self-doubt is part of the process of change. My goal with NAMES was to write a guy who grew by the end of the book.
Writing in 1st person was meant to connect the reader with Nick’s internal debate and struggle because I believe he can not be the only one who struggles with his sexuality, or is confused by new feelings for someone radically outside his operating frame. Nick is not bisexual, don’t read that, nor is he “gay for you;” Nick is shocked into seeing why he has never felt content or satisfied in a relationship before. Sometimes understanding you are gay is not the easiest position to be in. Being “straight” is easier because it doesn’t bring judgment or ridicule. This is what Nick struggles over—letting go of fear. He fears the possible judgment and ridicule and therefore clings to what is easy even if it is dissatisfying and empty.
Isn’t that true for some?
This book FLOWED from 1st person! I could really get into his head and see what he might feel.
My Roommate’s A Jock? Well, Crap! was written in 1st person and then to be different I added 3rd person whenever I came at the story from another character’s POV. Most of the story is Cole’s. Some of the story is seen from Ellis’ POV, or Rob’s, or Mike’s, and to set this even farther apart, I wrote in 3rd person. Some people liked this about my writing, and others did not. I guess I can not please everyone. I write what I write and however the characters come out.
My current WIP is in 1st person as well. I originally started writing is in 3rd person, but had to go back and rewrite chapters because they didn’t feel right. The story felt stifled. It was blah. I don’t want BLAH! The challenges I face in writing from 1st person in JOCK, NAMES, and now Misplaced Affection is that I want my voice to come out differently. It has to SOUND like Cole, or Nick, or my new characters. Head hopping needs to come across to the readers easily and that is my greatest test! Can I do it?
With my current work in progress (Misplaced Affection) I have three characters, Flynn, Zach, and Keith, and all three are written in 1st person. Fingers crossed they all sound different! It is hard and is taking a long time, but I hope the wait is worth while for my fans. It will be a doozy.
So I hope that illuminates my thought process a little on how and why I write in different POVs. All my books are different. And all will provoke the reader differently.
Enjoy this excerpt from NAMES CAN NEVER HURT ME where Nick is confused and debating over his sexuality:
All this time I’d thought I was straight. I was a straight guy who happened to be attracted to one hot, spiky-blond, gay guy. I was a straight guy with a boy-toy on the side. Corey had never meant that much to me. At least, I’d told myself that for over a year. And all the girls I’d dated didn’t mean much because I wasn’t looking to get married. I wanted sex, and so did most of them, so it was a win-win situation for everyone.
M-L was right: I was gay. Oh my God.
I’m gay. I’m not bi, I’m gay. I’m a gay guy with a girlfriend who doesn’t know I’m gay.
“No, no, no. That’s just stupid talking again.” I shook my head and concentrated on the pizza coming out of the oven.
For lunch, I ate a salad. I never ate salad. Truth was, I didn’t feel like eating. I felt like puking.
“You look like shit,” RC said. “What’s going on?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I’m gay, and I cheated on my girlfriend with my non-boyfriend.
“I think you do know, and you don’t want to say. Fine. Keep your shit to yourself and explode all over someone else.” He tapped the table and chirped, “Ooh, no, maybe you should keep it all in, go buy a gun, and ice everyone you work with like the pizza shop version of Call of Duty.” He was teasing me. I hated that.
I growled, “Shut up. I’m not homicidal.”
“Suicidal, then? You kind of have that dark-edge-around-your-eyes, slice-your-wrist appearance.”
“Stop teasing me!” I liked that he wasn’t acting weird after what I had said to him on Friday, but I wasn’t in the mood to enjoy it.
RC snickered. “Seriously, what’s up? You look bad.”
“I cheated on my girlfriend,” I admitted. That was only the tip of the iceberg, but I wasn’t ready to confess the rest. I shoved my plate away, crossed my arms on the tabletop, and rested my chin on them.
“Hmm, a cheater, eh? Not good.”
“No. You’re a cheater. You’re a low-life sex fiend who isn’t satisfied with the hot blonde you bed every weekend. They make daytime television shows about you. You should call one; maybe you could get paid to tell your story on live TV.”
“I said shut up. I feel bad enough.”
“Dr. Phil could help you.”
“I’m not taking this shit,” I said. I left my tray and stormed across the restaurant as fast as I could without attracting attention to myself. I headed down the hallway and RC yanked my arm, whirling me to face him. He shoved me against the wall and put a finger on my chest.
“Don’t! You don’t get to walk away. We’re friends, we talk about things, isn’t that what you told me? I sped off and you stalked me.” He stepped closer. “Don’t make me stalk you.”
He glared at me, but in truth, I could see that shine in his brown eyes that said he was about to laugh. “You’re making fun of me again,” I said calmly.
“Maybe I am, but you deserve it… cheater.”
I slapped his accusatory finger away. “Stop. All right, I cheated. I feel terrible. I do. I know I have to tell her.” But I’m not telling her it was with Corey.
“Yes, you do. And when you’re done confessing to Tara, you can tell me the rest of your problems because I can tell that’s not all that’s on your mind. After the way you acted in the theater, you owe me.”
I hung my head. He was still dwelling on that. “I’m sorry for the way I treated you.”
“You should be. Look, man, I know we don’t typically talk, but I’m not blind. I know you. Something’s been going on with you for a while. It’s me, isn’t it?” RC looked hurt when he asked that. I was scared where that question would lead. “You found out I’m gay, and now you don’t act right around me. You’re guarded, or something, most of the time. The theater was just a glimpse at how you really feel about me. Other homosexual friends aside, you can’t handle me being gay.”
No, I couldn’t, but not for the reasons he thought. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to act like an ass.”
“Yes, you did. Admit it, you can’t handle going places with me because you think it’s a date. Well, guess what? I don’t date sex-crazed straight guys who cheat, so you’re safe.” He smacked me on the side of the head and mumbled, “Idiot.”
Everybody was calling me an idiot lately.
He stared at me, and I stared back. Then we both started laughing.
“Okay, fine. I’m sorry,” I said sincerely.
“Me too. I shouldn’t have been so flip about the cheating. I find teasing you a little too fun sometimes. I’m sorry too.” He stuck out his hand, and I shook it. It was warm and way bigger than mine. I pulled my hand back and walked away. “I gotta work.”
I could tell he didn’t know what just happened, and to tell the truth, neither did I.
I went back to work and kneaded the dough ball in front of me. I couldn’t stop thinking about RC. I’d liked how my hand felt in his a little too much. Corey’s hands didn’t feel like his. My brain was scattered. One moment I thought I was gay, the next I wasn’t so sure, and then a short while later I was back to the same dilemma. Plus, I still had a girlfriend. I pushed the gay question away often, but it kept returning like a boomerang. Denial hadn’t worked; it had only prolonged the need to answer it. Gay. What did being gay mean, anyway? Maybe I was only a little gay?
I had a strong attraction to RC, and to Corey for that matter. Maybe I was gay?
I put the pizza I’d just made in the oven and zipped around the corner to where the ice machine sat. No one would come here unless they needed ice. I was safe for five minutes. I took out my phone and broke the rules: I got on the Internet while at work. If I didn’t know what gay meant, I had to look it up.