Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell! (@santinohassell)

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publication Date: July 31, 2015
Published: Dreamspinner Press

My Review:

Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.
Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.
When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

It’s been over a month since I’ve finished Sutphin Boulevard. Slacking on writing this review has nothing to do with being busy or anything. It is because it has taken that long for me to sort through the amount of emotions that this book left me with. When I picked this book up, I expected lots of smutty boy time. What I didn’t expect was glimpse of how addiction, grief and hiding true feelings can affect a person’s wellbeing. Is this a friends to lovers story? Yes. Is it more than that? Hell yes!

Michael and Nunzio were best of friends. Both from the “hood” and now teachers teaching at the same school. Michael starts going through some major changes in his life; losing a parent, a boyfriend, being back in his childhood home, the return of his deadbeat father and dancing in and out of that ‘closet’. Only silver lining is his trip to Italy with Nunzio. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. But what does happen, a steamy threesome that brings out some feelings that has been simmering for years. Confusion, a summer apart and the constant reminder of how turned out he became, Michael has a lot of questions popping up as well as a lot of popping pills. Doesn’t help that their random third party becomes the newest teacher at their school.

What I loved about SB was the lack of sugar coating. The feelings and reactions felt true and raw. There were times when I had to just stop reading because the feelings were too much for me to handle along with my own personal tragedy of losing a parent recently.

Another plus, it didn’t feel forced or fake. I didn’t have to stop and wonder if the places Santino were talking about were true because I knew they were. Even if I wasn’t from that area, I could sense the truth through Michael’s eyes. Authenticity was never a problem while reading this.

There were times when I wanted to slap both Michael and Nunzio because I wanted them to get their shit together and stop playing games. I think I yelled out once “You’re too old for this! Come on!”

With this, you’ll get the angst, the moments of what true friendship and love is. Sometimes you have to let your person fly and crash before letting them rebuild into the person they are meant to be. Nothing about these two were easy and I think that was the beauty about them. Also, the hot boy sex. Definitely the hot boy sex.

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