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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Level Hands (Bend or Break #4) [Denny & Rafi] by Amy Jo Cousins

I loved the little glimpse I got of Denny and Rafi in the previous installment and was really interested in getting their story. Through the synopsis it's quite obvious we are going to get Rafi's POV, with his struggles in a new place (Carlisle College) where he doesn't fit in, for too many reasons.. his color, being gay, lacking academically, not coming from "money" and especially since he is only there because of a scholarship he got from Cash and Denny's family heavy meddling

If someone can get what it feels like being an outsider it's me. Though I never had any of the specific problems Rafi has. I could totally get the feeling of inferiority and what it made him think, but I couldn't understand what it made him DO - mostly toward Denny - his only point of support

He was openly gay for years. He "owned it" when it came to who he is. He had his family's acceptance of the way he lived his life, he knew Denny is the one he wants even if it's complicated.. so I couldn't get why he behaved the way he did. It was like he went back at least 5 years in age to being a teenager at school. College is like school and it ISN'T. especially since he's older than some of the guys and had more life experience they probably didn't.. (with working for his own well being and his sisters')

So basically, instead of running to Denny's arms he runs AWAY from them, not wanting to be seen as the charity case Denny took on himself and brought to college. He didn't fit in with the rower's team (I think he was so scared of his own hide he didn't even TRY) except for the guys he lives with - two of which are openly gay (you would think will make it easier on him and yet it didn't). I didn't really like those guys, I'm not sure exactly why. They felt somewhat childish. There is some sort of relationship happening and not happening between two of his roommates that I have a feeling will be the focus of the next installment to be published but I"m not sure what I'd feel about it. 

There's a lot of emphases on Rafi's struggles. Not only with the rower's team and the physical difficulty as well as the social one (being latino, gay and arriving through a tailored scholarship from Denny's family), he also has to manage his studies which isn't easy with the inferior college he went to back home. That also didn't help the way he sees himself and the way others perceive him.

I was mad at Rafi most of the book. Yeah there were times when he was "mother hen" for Denny, being there for him, caring for his well being and yet most of the time he acted like a total jerk to him and the amazing thing was Denny TOTALLY got it. Even when it was hard for him, even when he was hurt and frustrated and didn't know what to do next to handle Rafi's behavior he kept on WAITING for him. I SO wanted to get Denny's POV, just for a little, but this whole book was written from Rafi's POV and so it was really hard for me to connect with Rafi when I was feeling as though he doesn't deserve Denny at all!

After all the drama that both went through together and on their own, I didn't really accept the way the story ended because I can't really believe that Rafi means it "this time around". He wanted Denny for two years, now they are finally together face-to-face and he keeps screwing it up every step of the way so why would these final gestures mean MORE now? because the story came to an end? I don't know. It's hard for me to simply accept it. 

I think part of the reason I'm so independent and manage well on my own, is due to the fact I had to deal with a lot of social situations on my own. I was the outsider wherever I went and so I guess it's one of the things that made me grow up more quickly. In a way that's what made me so annoyed with immaturity. Yeah I can be goofy and silly, in fact, I'm known to do that quite a lot! I love childish or cute little things (I count the lapses I do in the pool with yellow squeaky ducks!) and yet when it comes to the important stuff, the "grown up" stuff, I'm a big girl and I can't stand dealing with "kiddies" that are suppose to be over this stage in their lives. 

This book rubbed me the wrong way because of that for sure! and yet, there was something else, a more current occurrence that made me even more intolerant of Rafi's behavior.. My personal housing situation. I don't want to write more about that but lets just say that I moved in with a good friend and I will be leaving a total stranger behind. The things I went through personally the past month, showed me ingratitude in a very painful way, which made me take more that just Denny's "side" but also made me want to reject Rafi for not being worth the effort. So take my review with a grain of salt.. I'm not my usual self, especially not this specific week. 

I"m off to reading "Real World" - the 5th installment, which I am SO excited about there are NO WORDS. I LOVED Reece and Tom in the 1st installment and if there is something I want for them is a true HEA.  

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 293 pages, 14-15 November 2015 / On GoodReads

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