Life After Math (sequel to Love By the Numbers)
Author: S.L. Danielson
Publisher: Silver Publishing
American release date: June 3, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/YA/190 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: 18+
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★
Scott and Jared have weathered high school, now it’s on to college! They’ve managed to sustain and nurture their relationship through some pretty serious ups and downs, and have vowed to stay together forever. But when reality comes crashing down on them, in the form of pressure from their conflicting schedules, and they discover that the college world is vastly different than what they’ve known before, they’re faced with some decisions that have the potential to tear them apart.
Life is good as Scott and Jared celebrate their six month anniversary together with roses and Italian food. Jared’s mother announces her impending divorce from his abusive father and all’s well. Freshman year ends, on to sophomore. Things change when they find themselves in different dorm rooms.
Scott is still tutoring in math, and not just forJared (although he’s the only one who gets the strip algebra advantage!). He joins a club for math tutors and there he meets Daniel, a young and handsome Asian man. They become fast friends, even though he questions Scott’s engagement, thinking it’s happened too fast, especially at his age. Scott feels more attracted to Daniel than he should, and the feeling seems to be mutual.
Jared befriends a fellow psych student who introduces him to his study group—and his older brother Taylor, who’s in his thirties. Jared and Taylor become good friends, and he learns that that the big guy is gay too. Is Taylor crushing on Jared perhaps?
Junior year things only get worse, and when Jared demands Scott cut back on his tutoring, in order to get more personal attention, Daniel guilts him into keeping with his grueling schedule. Something’s gotta give—will it be the tutoring, or the relationship between Scott and Jared?
Let me start out by saying that this is a YA novel, not a romance novel, so don’t approach it thinking that it’s the latter. Maybe there’s romance in it, but that isn’t the same thing at all. I think the difference in the two has to do with the approach that the author takes. Ms. Danielson has a very bare bones, to the gut style of writing that is not flowery or romantic, and simply tells it like it is. Some of her descriptions during the sex scenes between the two boys are very graphic and not romantic at all—she is fond of comparing her characters to fountains when they orgasm, and spewing is not a romantic word at all. But she’s talking about teenage boys who just want to get off, so it works.
Where Ms. Danielson excels, rather than in the beauty of her language, is the depths of her characters, even if her situations border on or cross the soap opera line, which they do. She is fond of the dramatic and it shows. She creates characters that are more realistic than some romance novels. They have warts and blemishes and they need to use the bathrobe, and they have weight issues and self-esteem issues. And they’re far from perfect in the choices that they make. I would comment that she also builds a world where parents are accepting of their son’s sexuality without blinking and have frank sex talks with them. While that sounds nice, as the mother of five children now past those years, I know what I’d get if I’d tried to discuss their sex lives with them, and I can’t repeat it. But this is the world she creates, so suspend your disbelief when you enter it.
Frankly, I think the editor dropped the ball on this one, not in grammar or spelling, but in continuity and logic issues, but one can’t fault the writer for that. Perhaps as an editor, I tend to think that way, but I would think another editor would too.
If you enjoyed Love by the Numbers, you really should read the sequel, to see what happens with the boys, following their tumultuous lives. If you haven’t read the first one, then read it. They’re good enjoyable reads that will stick with you for some time afterwards.