Bardsley, Ralph Josiah. Brothers. Bold Strokes Books, 2015. 264 p. PB $18.95 ISBN 978-1-62639-538-1
This author’s first book is a stunning success. Its stars are two pairs of Irish brothers in South Boston. At age 23, Jamus becomes a single parent for his three-year-old brother Nick after the death of their parents. He becomes a successful writer, but his love life is on hold as he focuses on Nick.
Nearby are Sean and Kevin. Sean teaches English in a Cambridge prep school, and Kevin is home after six years in the Marines and working a temp job at a law firm. Sean is under pressure from family and friends to respond to a neighborhood girl who is in love with him, but he resists.
Fourteen-year-old Nick enrolls in Sean’s school and is in his English class. Jamus meets Sean briefly at the Catholic church they both attend, and they are eventually alone together for a week of falling in love. After challenges and family conflict, everything finally comes together at the church one Sunday morning with Jamus and Sean, Sean’s brother Kevin and Nick. This is a novel you don’t want to see end.
The story is told in the third person, and the characters are real and genuine, as is the strife they endure. The author, who is also Irish American, knows what he is writing about and does it well.
This is a great novel, highly recommended for all libraries and for readers that enjoy gay literature.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University