Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: First Exposure by Alan Chin - 4 Stars

First Exposure by Alan Chin
4 Stars

Paperback264 pages
Published August 19th 2014 by Bold Strokes Books (first published August 17th 2014)
ISBN 1626390827

Available for purchase at:

I read this as a buddy read and, now, two days after finishing it I'm still talking it through.   
Very contemplative.


This book affected me. It wasn't an easy-to-take read despite its flow and, at times, lyrical nature. The characters are deeply flawed with unquestionably deplorable morals even if one might be able to justify their actions, or not. Who among us hasn't wished harm on someone who has wronged us? Chalk it up to-- too close to reality, too recognizable and entirely too gripping, but this book will remain in my mind and soul.

I warn you there are triggers here, so check the tags before delving in.


Petty Officer Second Class Skylar Thompson - Masculine to a fault, lithe, artistic, beautiful and compassionate. AND, angry, bitter, stubborn and conflicted. His actions may infuriate you and they may break you, but either way it is fascinating to see if he can pull his life together.
Skylar felt his balls being crushed between two boulders called Salvation and Disaster.
Ezra Dunphy - His loneliness and crushingly desperate search for attention nearly had me setting this book aside. But glimpses of his true nature, strength and genius kept me welded to this story.
Diamond knew that all the evils of the world arose from people wishing to be to be something other than what they are, and that desire gave birth to despair, covetousness, and sickness.
The Secondary Characters - 

Rosa- Conniving, selfish and completely unworthy of her husbands affection. Kudos to the author for not smoothing out her edges. I rarely hate a character to this degree.

Miguel and Holly-  True love lies here. These beautiful, wise and committed lovers were the glue that others needed to model their lives after. Lovely.


This bittersweet and mature story begins with Skylar returning home from an eighteen month deployment at sea. He's eager to reunite with his family, but this artistic man struggles to provide for them. He takes a second job that allows his creativity to bloom, but his navy job changes to allow his new daytime job and the two careers couldn't clash more.

Ezra finds himself alone and traveling a familiar path in order to find companionship, but will he ever find compassion?

It turns out that this is a story about two men who are just looking for acceptance and understanding; elemental necessities that can be so very hard to achieve.


This is probably where I'm most conflicted with this book. Mr. Chin can certainly weave a story. He surprised me, was tough and unforgiving. He fully developed his characters

The Blurb:

Straight, married Petty Officer Second Class Skyler Thompson battles homophobia from his navy buddies, the military, and his wife when he takes a job creating flower arrangements at a gay-owned florist. But rather than yield to pressure and quit, he refuses to give up the joy of creating beautiful arrangements, battling homophobia for artistic expression. His dream is to leave the navy and open his own florist shop.

Ezra Dumphy—his shipmates call him Dumpy because of his obesity—is a gay sailor who likes to dress in drag. He is shunned by his shipmates, tragically lonely, and uses drugs to cope with his solitude. What he wants more than anything is someone to share his life with.

Can these two men, opposites in every way, help each other achieve their dreams?

to the point of being unforgettable and caused me emotional duress. The pacing was spot on, because if it had slowed anywhere I would have become too caught up in considering the immoral nature of these characters to continue.

The conflict comes with his choice to allow nearly all of his characters to be deplorable. That made it difficult to cling on, to root for and to endure this read. That being said, I'm confident in calling this a four-star read. I believe the author achieved his goals, wanting to tell a tale of coarse immorality while shining a spotlight on the intimate beauty of friendship.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. Just go into it knowing that this author doesn't pull his punches. He's going to make you uncomfortable, but he definitely puts you in the story and gives you plenty to consider.

You can contact Alan Chin at: 

~ ~ ~

I would like to sincerely thank Alan Chin for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and for allowing it to be shared for a group read/review.

~ ~ ~

Other Fun Stuff!