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Willaful Review: Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger

Sensuality Rating: technically candyfloss, but with some explicit language


“I don’t know what you’ve got up your sleeve for Travis and Craig, but I want the boys to wind up together. If you put me through all this without a happy ending, I’ll see to it that you never work in this town again.”

After John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, this is the sweetest, funniest book that ever broke my heart. (Which is not a spoiler for the ending, by the way; it broke my heart on page 30.) In the world’s most adorable book opening, theatre geek/activist Travis and jock/baseball lover Craig become the best buddies ever who don’t know they’re in love. And then just when they figure it out… BAM. We’re suddenly twenty years later and they are not together! Though you can still see their influence on each other’s lives: Craig has become a civil rights lawyer, and Travis teaches history to jocks by comparing major historical events to major moments in baseball. (His students’ test answers, which include advice on how to conduct his love life, are one of the highlights of the story.)

Craig is also in a long term relationship, but Travis’ attempts to find love have all been dismal failures. And he suddenly realizes that it’s because he already had it… and lost it. And so begins an epic journey to rediscover the love of his life.

Told in a stream of journal entries, school essays, phone conversations, court documents and so on, and featuring a large cast of lovably eccentric characters, this was as amusing to read as it is affectionate. I especially loved that Kluger gave each main character a sassy, wise straight friend. By genre standards, this would qualify as a novel with strong romantic elements rather than a romance, but the spirit of romance pervades the book and much true love is found all around.

Two things kept this from being a 5 star read for me: I didn’t think there was enough individuation between the different character’s voices, and I felt a little too manipulated by Kluger keeping Craig and Travis apart for so long. (And you can tell from the quote above that he knew he was doing it.) Though I’m tempted to give that extra star, because after creating a seemingly impossible situation, the story pulls off an ending that feels right.  I love the book, even though it hurt. You can buy it from Amazon here.

Published by William Morrow. Review from borrowed copy. I want my own.