Reviewed by PizzyGirl
TITLE: Everyday History
AUTHOR: Alice Archer
NARRATOR: Daan Stone
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 10 hours, 43 minutes
RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2017
Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert into a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.
Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.
I have to admit, Everyday History was strange for me. It took me awhile to get into the story but once I did, things turned from listening to a book, to me being a part of this weird emotional journey. So please note that this review will be a bit different than normal because it will feature not only my thoughts, but often times my reactions as well. I feel it’s necessary because this story was all over the place for me and I am having a hard time explaining why I loved it, yet I didn’t.
My journey started out a bit confused. I just did not understand the draw between these two men. Oh I got Henry’s fascination for shiny Ruben, but I never understood it enough to know why Henry would waste his time on an 18 year old who obviously didn’t know himself. What exactly was it about a man 14 years his junior, and a student at that, that made this story even feasible? I really kept wanting to know the why of it all. The author made attempts at it in beautiful language and wonderful stories, but I still never understood.
My journey then turned from confusion over the whys, to confusion over if I even cared to know the why of it all. I think that was partly because I didn’t like Ruben and the way he treated Henry. Henry made it very clear he wanted to settle down with someone who could appreciate him and give him stability and a family. Ruben was more interested in sowing his oats and I personally wished he would have left Henry alone to find someone else. I had a hard time wanting to continue this story because I didn’t connect to Ruben and I didn’t think he deserved Henry. If it wasn’t for the oddly suspenseful tone of the story tugging me forward, I would not have finished this one.
Then I just got pissed. I found out how Ruben’s crush developed and there was a glimpse of Ruben wanting to be all that Henry deserved but still he gave the excuse that ‘he didn’t have anything to compare Henry too’ so he couldn’t make a commitment?!?!? Wtf really? I was getting very impatient with Ruben’s behavior and attitude. I can appreciate the character study presented and the way this was true to what often happens in life where we don’t always do what’s best for ourselves and almost court the pain and heartache but geez this was annoying.
Ruben did a lot of soul searching and maybe I was supposed to understand his side but I just wanted to slap him for being so selfish. I get it he’s 18 but I formed an unexplained deep connection to Henry and so was unable to connect to Ruben. I was so glad when Henry stood up for himself and told Ruben to put up or shut up. But I have to admit I was highly disappointed that Ruben just left. Even in all my annoyance, I was still hopeful Henry would get his heart’s desire.
Henry’s articles were amazing at pulling raw emotion from me. When he admitted his love, I was in tears driving to work. It ripped me apart and left me drained. At this point, I was over Ruben and I wanted Henry to find love and and I didn’t want it to be Ruben. Ruben was immature and selfish and while I wanted to feel bad for his pain, it was self inflicted and it’s a case of burnout for me. How long can you be sympathetic to someone who refuses to admit he is blatantly ignoring the truth and refuses to help himself? How long before the reader is just done waiting for Ruben’s head to come out of his ass. I mean Henry was growing and making a name for himself and reaching for his goals, all the while Ruben was fucking his way through the human population while bitching about how he doesn’t deserve Henry. Well no shit! You are fucking anything that moves and refusing to admit it is not what you want out of life!
But then things changed for me. Ruben finally woke up and admitted his guilt and started looking for Henry and I was hooked. I needed to see Henry and Ruben reunite especially knowing the asshat agent was preventing it. It was like it’s ok for me to dislike Ruben but when someone else did, oh hellll no that’s Henry’s man!
But then more of the self sabotage when Ruben ‘sleeps’ with others to get back at Henry for sleeping with others. God this section was soooooo slow and annoying. I get it growth and discovery, but I had to increase the speed of the recording because I was so tired of the repetition of self flagellation and missed opportunities.
I have to admit I did get swept up in the ending. Ruben’s grand gesture and Henry’s emotional reaction was FANTASTIC. But the more I thought about this book the more I felt like I was cheated. I mean yes, grand romance, HEA, true love and all that, but more than half this story was spent with these men going about their lives apart and not really getting to know one another. It was focused on shared memories and idolization of a love that was so brief it was almost explainable. Then the true romance, the relationship development, the life together, was presented as an off the page time jump.
I think this is a case of it’s me not you because I can truly appreciate the craft in this story. The writing style was phenomenal and the care taken to developing these characters and their lives was so detailed and rich it was worthy of praise. The character study and the way this story presented human nature and history and all that was really a testament to the author’s talent. BUT the romance, which while only a part of the whole, was for me the main focus of the whole and it was rather superficial and unexplained and rushed. I felt emotion and yes, I got swept up in the grandeur, but I was never so swept up that I was able shut off that nagging sensation that I needed more. I needed more of the why of it all and I needed to see more of these men together on the page to really believe the emotion and the result. 4 stars for the writing and the presentation, but without more depth to the romance, I just can’t give that last star.
This was my first experience with Daan Stone as a narrator and I loved his voice. He really read this one well. At first I was confused as to the tone he took when reading this one, but as the story progressed, I felt like he really captured the feel of this rather strange story. I would listen to him again.