Finding stories like this one is why I read, why I spend hundreds of dollars a month and every second of my spare time on books, why I endure books that aren't so good... because every once in a while, I get to read a story like this one. This was incredible and beautiful and powerful and just felt so REAL.
Lukas and Alan are both captivating, and I loved every second of watching them get to know and hate each other, and then be friends, and then be brave enough to try for more. I LOVED (ugh, I use that word to much, and it's not strong enough! grr!) I adored, I was was awed by the rock climbing and how Ms. Sarge was able to use Lukas and Alan's experience climbing together as the most beautiful metaphor for the rest of the book.
The setting was fascinating and the descriptions were delightfully vivid, but I thought it was perfect, given that we're in Lukas's head, that the most vivid image I'm left with is of Alan. Of all of the beautiful scenery, interesting people, houses, couches, dogs, cookies, and everything else that went into making this story come to vivid and believable life, Alan was always the most vivid, the most beautiful.
Every Alan out there should get to have a Lukas.
But then, the thing that makes this story even more amazing is that it wasn't just Alan that benefited from the relationship, as was put across beautifully with the rock climbing metaphor. Lukas was able to be braver and do more because of Alan than he would have been able to do if it weren't for him.
There were so many things I adored about this story! --I loved how Alan climbed Lukas the first time he met the dogs (I totally share his phobia of dogs and have been known to react similarly, so it cracked me up!).
--I loved all of Alan's nicknames for Lukas.
--I loved that Lukas got to be a hero so often, but frequently only because of Alan.
--Even though it prompted his last running away at the end, I loved that Lukas actually failed some of Alan's tests for him, so that Alan can know that Lukas isn't perfect, but that he's doing his best.
--I LOVED Alan's sister, LOVED her!
--Aunt Lilia has to be the coolest great-aunt EVER.
--I loved that Lukas's mom drove so far and got so lost and frustrated just because she didn't want to talk about her son being in love with another guy over the phone.
--I love all of the side characters: Mal was a perfect hag, Will has to be the awesomest little brother ever.
--I love all of the little things Lukas did for Alan, like sitting in his seat in the Mug Shot so that he wasn't in danger of getting food dumped on him anymore.
--I love that the scene where the picture from the prompt is incorporated is one of the most amazingly romantic scenes EVER! And is certainly my favorite use of the picture in any of these stories I've read from this year or last year.
--Maybe most of all, I love that there's a story that deals with depression in a real, compassionate, caring way. That Lukas completely understood what he was getting in to and that he still chose Alan. I haven't cried so much at a story since the first time I read Les Misérables. The part where Lukas tells Alan "You can be yourself with me. I can handle you." had me to the point I couldn't read through the tears.
This story is glorious. Without question one of the best M/M stories I've read... ever. I'm off to find out what else this author has written and buy it all!