Put simply, What You Are is a story of self-acceptance. Although there are four male protagonists, this is really Alex’s story and his journey is not an easy one,
Alex hides one significant memory, behind a mask of bravado and aggression. Erin E Keller begins the story, showing him to be difficult and honestly, a bit of an ass! If anything his behaviour gets worse when Daniel moves in and I was pleased that Keith and Gabriel were there to confront him!
What begins as as an uncomfortable relationship between Alex and Daniel develops into a friendship both men rely upon, but Alex’s stubborn stupidity prevents this from advancing any further – and his insistence that he can’t possibly be gay.
It is at this point where are feelings towards Alex change permanently. We finally understand how badly this one incident in his past has changed him. This leads to one of my favourite scenes in the book; Alex’s conversation with Gabriel and Kevin, during which Gabriel utters an important five words,
‘ “ feelings have no gender, right? “ ‘
What You Are is not a straight man “becomes” gay story, instead Erin E Keller creates a character who has been in denial, until he realises that he must face his demons and admit who he really is. And yes this changes him, but only for the better.
Alex walks down the road of his life, apparently without any detours. He has a job, friends, a nice apartment and a girlfriend who meets his needs. A smooth life lived on a smooth road.
But when Daniel shows up at his door, Alex meets the first bump in the road — which turns out to be more like a boulder — in his way.
Daniel is a gorgeous, warm, affectionate man, one who will force Alex to deal with something that happened years ago, something that made him take the safe route through life. With Daniel, he finally realizes that he’d shut down his true self, he begins the most difficult part of his journey — the one that could take him to Daniel and to happiness.