By Brandon Shire
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10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.
Martin Zoric - What a beautiful soul. This man, the maestro, is talented, kind and so destroyed.
Ren Wakahisa - A modern young man trapped by tradition. He escapes his bonds momentarily, only to land in another's struggles.
Mirnela Zoric - Fascinating. Strong, smart and very perceptive. A very impressive character.
The Symphony - It's nearly a character in its own right, with its demands and rewards. Its politics and its emotion.
I never thought I'd read a book that dealt with the subject of stillbirth. I'm not that strong. If it wasn't for the pull that Mr. Shire's writing has for me, I wouldn't have attempted this. How wrong I would have been.
Yes, the basis for the story is a devastating stillbirth, but with its focus on Martin rather than Mirnela I felt that I wanted to see where Mr. Shire would take this story. Martin's grief has disabled him, and from the depth of his despair we learn that men can be ruined emotionally by this tragedy that is typically viewed as a woman's burden.
Again, while that is the basis, those details are in the past; it's the present and future that Martin and Ren must figure out how to navigate. These two men come together from opposite ends of the earth, but find they each have something to offer the other.
Ren is trying to escape his own burden. I had to wonder how "real" his conflict was in modern society, and I was surprised to find that it is not uncommon in Japanese culture. Even today. He is in a very difficult position, and I was quite apprehensive about his outcome.
I don't often find myself writing about the women in my MM reads, but Mirnela deserves a whole review all on her own. Brandon has created an amazing character here, and I can't wait to get to discuss her with others. I bet she'll be controversial.
I also want to discuss what the author was able to accomplish in the symphony scenes. Without being ostentatious, the musicality of his writing gave passion and power and drove these scenes to a degree that had me feeling and experiencing the music on the page. I was in the concert hall seeing the sweat on the brow of the conductor, surrounded by the intense love of music that permeated the entire read. Breathtaking.
When Brandon told me what this book would be about, I don't think I reacted very well. It was something like, "you're going to write about what now?" I mean, come on, we'd come off two hunky, steamy novels, and it threw me for a moment. I shouldn't have had a doubt. I'm learning that when he tackles the tough stuff, he's at his best.
One of the most difficult books I've ever read, emotionally, was Brandon's Listening to Dust. This latest book doesn't have that soul-shattering effect, but the masterful writing style and fully absorbing content were impressive and memorable. That's not to say that this didn't leave me sobbing. It did, but it was quite a different, sensory experience.
Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.
He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see.
But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?
When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.
Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?
Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.
Award winning writer BRANDON SHIRE is a distinct voice in contemporary fiction. Mr. Shire was chosen as a Top Read in 2011, Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2011 & 2012, and garnered several Honorable Mentions, as well as a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.