Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Nothingness of Ben, Brad Boney

A high-powered New York attorney has his life turned upside down when his parents are killed and he must return home to raise his siblings.  While there, he finds love as well as family.

*** This review has spoilers. ***

-Review by Cindi

The Nothingness of Ben
Ben Walsh is on the fast lane to becoming a top New York attorney.  He has a gorgeous new boyfriend and great friends.  Life is good.  Then he receives a phone call from Texas and that perfect life comes crashing down. Both of his parents have been killed and he must return to his hometown of Austin for the funeral and to raise his three younger brothers.  Ben is ten years older than his closest sibling so the relationships are strained.  Until the dreaded phone call, Ben had only made an occasional (once a year) visit home.  He barely knows his brothers and he has no idea how to relate to them much less be their guardian.  Thankfully, a neighbor and family friend, Travis Atwood, steps in.  

Travis works as a mechanic.  He rents a room across the street from Ben's family and had gradually gotten closer to the family as time went on.  He has been a surrogate big brother to Ben's brothers for the past few months, often included at family meals before their parents were killed.  The initial meeting of Ben and Travis takes place shortly after the burial.  It does not go well.  Ben immediately gets defensive and does not treat Travis well.  Thankfully, Travis takes this in stride.  It does not take long before a close friendship develops between the two men and later, much more.  Ben is openly gay.  Travis is not.

There are quite a few things that I really liked about this book and a few I didn't.

What I liked:

- Ben's brothers.  I am a sucker for children in books if they are written well. The author did a great job when he wrote them.  They are written as typical teens (and one pre-teen) who act like kids.  They mourn as teenagers.  They get moody like teenagers.  The have the same problems as teenagers.  Had the author not written them realistically, I would not have enjoyed them as much..  After raising three sons, I know all the typical 'teenager-isms' and they are all in this book perfectly.  

- Travis.  What a sweetheart.  A southern boy who does not have much in education but he's got so much more in heart and compassion.  He starts feeling something for Ben (other than friendship) and he does not shy away from it even though it is foreign to him.  He has his moments of hesitancy but he knows what he wants and is not ashamed to go for it.  And when Ben treats him badly later, Travis mans up and leaves Ben to sweat it for awhile.  That was perfect.

- One of Ben's brothers is gay.  I am very impressed with how the author wrote about the boy's struggles. Not struggles over his homosexuality per se but with school and bullying and just being a teenager who is different from most of his classmates.  He's the type of kid you just want to hug and tell that everything will be okay.  I adored this kid.

- This book is all about making a family after horrible circumstances.  I love books about making a family (as my blog partner can attest) and this one was done perfectly.  My 'mom instincts' kicked in quite a bit while reading and that's a good thing.  The author managed to bring out the emotion of all of the characters as they dealt with the loss of their parents and building a new life without them.

What I did not like:

- Ben. This is a problem as Ben is the main character.  I liked him fine until the 65% point on my Kindle and then the author threw out a curve ball and turned Ben into a complete ass.  He treats Travis as if he is beneath him.  He takes him to a party in New York that Travis obviously would not fit in at and then abandons him with his wealthy friends not giving a damn if Travis is uncomfortable.  He has no consideration for him or the fact that Travis is far out of his element.  Oh and let's not stop there.  Ben's ex boyfriend (the gorgeous one that he left in New York when he went back to Texas to raise the boys) is at the party and what does Travis overhear Ben say to this guy?  That he's not sure he loves Travis.  This, after begging Travis (before the trip) to promise to love him enough to walk away from his life in Texas and move to New York with the family in a few months.  He treats Travis like he is ashamed of him after pledging his (so-called) undying love to him.  Remember, Travis always considered himself to be straight before Ben so he had to abandon his entire old life for Ben.

- Ben's best friend.  He was a good friend to Ben (to an extent) but he ends up dating Ben's ex and is extremely inconsiderate to Travis as a result.  The ex is basically thrown into Travis' face at every turn.

- Travis and his southern-speak.  One of my biggest pet peeves.  I'm a southern girl and I can honestly say that folks down in my neck of the woods most definitely do not say "Good golly!"  If we do, it's making fun of someone on a reality show performing for the cameras.  Thankfully, the author didn't go too far with the southern-speak so I was able to overlook it for the most part.  (Yes, I am aware that the author lives in the south).

Overall, this was a really good story.  I had to force myself to like Ben during the last 35% of the book but I was able to overcome that because of Travis and the children.   Travis manages to turn the tables on Ben and I found myself enjoying that because Ben had to sweat it out for awhile. I (wrongly probably) enjoyed watching Ben struggle as a result of the way he had treated Travis months before.  I liked watching him squirm.  I am normally not big on gay-for-you books but Brad Boney made this one work.

It takes awhile to get to the resolution but at no time did the book drag.  An enjoyable read.

Excellent cover.  Perfect for the story.


  1. Well, gollleeyy!! LOL. I'm glad you liked it overall. You love your family books, me, not so much. Sounds like a few people will like this. By the way? I think Brad sounded like he needed to squirm as well:)

    1. You are on a roll tonight.

      Ben definitely needed to squirm. I love how that played out. Yes, you know me and my family books. If a book has a kid in it, I'm usually right on it (as long as it is written well anyway). I'm a sap. Always have been. :)