Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.
Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.
Rusty doesn't believe himself to be very smart. In fact he calls himself stupid constantly. He thinks he's just a big dumb jock. He's a nice guy though and when a new kid, Oliver Campbell, starts at his school, he's nice to him – it doesn't matter to Rusty that Oliver's gay. They become best friends and by summer they're constantly hanging out together. When Oliver kisses Rusty the night before he leaves for college he really likes it until he finally clues in to what he's doing – kissing a boy. He feels he should be more bothered by kissing Oliver but he's really not.
Rusty heads off to Berkley where he doesn't feel he belongs at all. His parents have such plans for his future that Rusty doesn't really want any part of. He does want to at least try to pass. He struggles constantly in his classes and texts Oliver daily to get help. He's barely hanging on with his studies and with his belief about his stupidity but he manages. He does have a breakdown at one point but Oliver and his roommate, Rex pull him through.
When Thanksgiving break comes along Rusty is more than ready to head home. He's finally realized that Oliver is much more than a friend and that he is in love with him. When Rusty gets home Oliver kisses him and Rusty's mom sees them. Within minutes she's kicking him out of the house – unless of course he gets rid of Oliver and then he's more than welcome home. Ug.
Rusty then has to deal with the emotional fallout from his family and his feelings of inadequacy when it comes to taking care of Oliver. Oliver's large extended family embraces Rusty as do his sister and their housekeeper. The story centers on Rusty's growth as a man, a son, a brother and a lover. The
This story was such an amazing read. While at times quite funny it was pretty intense most of the time and heartbreaking just as much as it was heartwarming.
Rusty is just an average person. Her parents are distant and think that their kids will love them for what they can give them. Rusty and his sister were basically shown affectionate love by the housekeeper and she's the one they felt closest to. Having grown up in that kind of family he really didn't know what to do with all the emotions he was feeling when Oliver came along. Oliver showed him the person he could be and then sat and waited for Rusty to catch up mentally. He certainly wasn't stupid but his brain definitely worked at a slower pace than some. Of course when he got it, he really GOT it. Oliver was just the perfect guy for Rusty. While Oliver did have his impatient side (though small) the flip side of that was one of the most patient men ever. I thought the two of them together were perfect.
I adored the secondary characters in this book almost as much as I loved Rusty and Oliver. Oliver's dad is the kind of guy you want for your father – and your friend. He was kind and understanding and a really great guy. Oliver's extended family were all wonderful too and accepted, loved and supported Rusty when his own parents threw him away. Rusty's sister stood by him and she was awesome, just like Rusty - I loved their relationship. Rex, Rusty's roommate at Berkley was another incredible character. At first I thought he was a real douche but he proved to be a true friend and took care of Rusty when he hit his rough spots. The guy cracked me up with his sexual antics!
I don't think I can adequately describe how much this book touched me. It's a wonderful story that made me laugh, cry – I even laughed while crying! It's well written, has great characters and I loved every word.
Rating: 5 out of 5
4 hours ago