For The Heart of Phillip
Author: SL Danielson
American release date: 2010
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/MM Romance/331 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: Mature/Explicit Content
Overall Personal Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
At the age of twelve, Phillip Marnier has three strikes against him—he’s overweight, he’s bi-polar and he’s manic depressive. Being six foot tall only helps to keep him in the radar of his taunting peers. Then one morning, while riding his school bus, Phillip meets a new boy, two years his junior—Andrew Bradley-Horner—and his life will never be the same.
Phillip and Andy become fast friends—the first true friendship the troubled older boy has ever experienced. When Phillip hits puberty, he thinks his meds aren’t working, ‘cause things don’t feel the same, including what he feels for Andy. His perceptive mother tells him to be patient, it will come to him. When Phillip leaves Andy behind for high school, the younger boy is worried that he will lose his friend; he meets and becomes good friends with a young girl named Rachel, although she can never take Phillip’s place in his life.
When Phillip’s family takes him on a forced family vacation, he meets Robert Marshall, who actually goes to school not far from them. They become very close very quickly, and when each confess to liking boys, they share a first kiss together and become boyfriends. When he returns home and tells Andy his news, Phillips isn’t prepared for the other boy’s reaction. With time and gentle persuasion, Phillip finally gets to the heart of the matter—Andy is also gay and he has feelings for him. Quite the dilemma. And thus begins the start of a pattern which is fated to continue for a very long time.
Together they negotiate their high school years. Phillip leaves for college first, and Robert is right there with him. When Andy graduates high school and arrives as well, the triangle continues. Life is a definite rollercoaster, filled with highs and lows, and drama galore. Who will emerge the winner, possessing the heart of Phillip?
This novel spans sixteen years in the life of Phillip Marnier, and it has all of the drama of a soap opera. Phillip isn’t your typical hero—he has problems up the yin yang, and yet he has two supposedly hot guys fighting over him like two dogs over a bone. Frankly, I don’t know why, but that is immaterial. They do. This fight goes back and forth for years, as Phillip vacillates between them, although in the end, he invariably follows his heart. The trouble is, I think he also has a split personality, and he can never decide what he wants until after he ends up with something else.
The characters are certainly not stereotypical; if I had to choose my favorite character, it would have to be Andy. But on the whole, I also want to slap all of them. They cry sometimes at the drop of a hat, and their morals are certainly questionable. Add accidental fatherhood to what is already a train wreck, and there is a big mess to be sorted out.
SL Danielson’s style is not ornate or elaborate. As she once confessed to me, it is derived from doing a lot of report writing. It’s succinct and to the point. She deals with emotions, rather than descriptions, preferring to get to the heart of the matter—her characters, their emotions and their reactions. I have to admit the parents got on my nerves, being way too involved for adult men to put up with, but hey, I am willing to guess there are parents like these. And face it, when it’s your kid, you’ll take his side and protect him at all costs.
So, pull out a box of Kleenex, settle yourself in your easy chair, have a drink handy, and enjoy the story for what it is—a story of love, exploration and discovery. And fighting for the heart of Phillip.