“It’s instinct… You keep living because you need to keep living… It’s like… you know that you have to rebuild. So it’s survival.”
Author: Vee Hoffman
Genre: Gay Romance
Writing the first-person account of Michael Cassidy, who becomes a Catholic school teacher in the aftermath of the tragic death of his boyfriend, Vee Hoffman balances beautifully lyrical prose with a sensual exploration of people and places. Ashebrook, its warm community and the house inherited from his aunt provide a comfortable haven for Michael, but it’s the friendship with neighboring Butler family and their son Dominic that proves most rewarding. Teacher, friend, soon confidant, Michael understands Dominic’s secrets more than anyone in his sheltered Catholic community, but what else can he allow himself to hope for when love offers him a second chance?
The first in a four-book series, Acclamation is written in the style of the main character, Michael, writing a memoir about his life. While I’m usually not one for flowery prose, the style absolutely blew me away. I could put up with long metaphors and reflection not only because it was just damn beautiful, but because it fit Michael’s character to a tee.
Michael is the new, young teacher in the small city of Ashebrook, teaching English at a Catholic high school (or the British equivalent; I’m still not exactly sure how their school system works). After he begins to drive his neighbors’ son home from school every day, he finds himself becoming more and more enamored with the young man (who is 17 at the beginning of the book and turns 18 about a fourth of the way through).
Let me start off by saying that I found Hoffman’s writing through fanfiction. Between publishing books, she writes fic, and after reading one of them, I was so incredibly blown away by her prose that I knew I needed to see her professional works. Sure enough, Acclamation did not disappoint.
While I expected to be a little creeped out by Michael and Dominic’s relationship due to the power dynamics and the ten-year age gap, I only experienced a few moments of uncomfortableness in the very beginning. Thankfully, Michael feels plenty bad for all of us, but he paints such a beautiful picture of how they come together that it can’t be anything but heartwarming. The relationship they have is honest and real, and I truly felt for them while I read.
Michael was a beautifully fleshed out character, and I’m still eager to find out more about him as I read further into the series. Every detail of his life is so incredibly vivid that I felt like I really knew him by the end of the book. I had a clear definition of his character, his relationships, and his personality, which is expressed even in just the way he writes about his life.
My only concern with the book was Dominic. While I generally liked him, I couldn’t find myself falling in love with him in the same way Michael did. I think this is mostly due to the fact that Dominic comes off as flawless. He makes one mistake in the book, but even then, Michael treats it like it’s nothing and completely understandable. While I see where Michael is coming from, having been in a similar situation, it still meant to me that Dominic was relatively perfect.
Now, one reason for this could be that the book is written from Michael’s point of view and is therefore biased. Michael finds excuses for anything that could be a flaw in Dominic. While I can rationalize this, it still felt unreal to me. I couldn’t find myself drawn to Dominic because I didn’t believe him. Where was his selfishness? His pride? His anything that would set him apart from an angelic being?
That being said, it only slightly diminished my enjoyment of the book. Overall, I thought it was spectacular, and even if I didn’t care as much for Dominic as I thought I should, I definitely cared about his relationship with Michael. The writing could get overly poetic at times, but usually I thought it was right on the nose for the narrator’s personality.
This story about loss and love was gorgeous and beautifully written, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.