Saturday, 3 October 2015

Love Like We Do - Side A & B by Lori L. Otto - ARC Review


Four narrators
Two books
One story of LOVE

Blurb: Side A
Released: 20th October 2015.

The odds were stacked against Max Rosser when he was born sixteen years ago. A month before his birth, his father was put in jail for breaking parole, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest. His single mother was an alcoholic, struggling to keep her job and her home. Already, she could barely take care of eight-year-old Will and twelve-year-old Jon.

Max's older brothers hid their mother’s disease from him as best as they could, and they made sure Max had everything he needed to be a normal, well-adjusted kid, despite the fact that they lived at or below the poverty line for much of his childhood. When his oldest brother became engaged to Livvy Holland, the daughter of the richest man in the state, Max befriended her little brother, Trey, and the two remained best friends even though their home lives couldn’t be more different.

Through Trey, Max made more friends, including star athlete Callen McNare. Over the years, the boys played team sports, went on group dates, and worked summer jobs together. They became close; closer than anyone would have guessed. Before a real relationship could even begin, Max and Callen were forced apart when their secret was discovered.

In LOVE LIKE WE DO - SIDE A, family and friends reevaluate their associations with the boys. Callen’s parents are in denial. Trey feels betrayed by his two closest buddies and wonders how their friendship will change. Jon struggles to keep his family together, despite his mother’s devout beliefs and his brother Will’s immoral ways. Interactions with the people around them could bring enlightenment and understanding, or they could keep Max and Callen apart while doing irreparable damage to their families.

This is Trey and Jon's side of the story.

Kristine's Review: Side A

Reviewed: October 2015.

It's an interesting concept to have two books for essentially the same story, companion novels are not a new occurrence, to be honest some I have enjoyed and some have missed the mark for me, but Love Like We Do side A and B was definitely nothing like a companion novel. This story is split up into two full length books for very good reason, Ms Otto has given the reader four narrators, side A focusing on Jon Scott and Try Holland's POV. The reader is able to immerse themselves in the reactions of those around Max and Callen, as opposed to the thoughts and emotions of the central characters, the stories true hero's.

This style of book was risky for sure, would the author be able to capture the attention of the reader with two separate full size books addressing largely the same story? To answer that, in my opinion not only did Ms Otto capture my attention, she had me completely and utterly invested in all the key players, in their thoughts and emotions, in their moments of weakness and their triumphs, and she proved without a doubt while side A and B focus on one central story, there is definitely more than just two sides to every story.

While Love Like We Do can be read as a dual stand alone, that being you must read both sides here, I would also recommend reading both the Emi: Lost and Found and the Choisie series, not because you won't understand Love Like We Do without it, but because they are both series that stay with you long after you turn the last page, they will leave footprints on your heart, they will steal a little piece of your soul.

What I adored so much about Love Like We Do side A is that we see everything from an outsiders point of view, while the main characters remain Callen and Max, it was refreshing to see everything unfold from Max's older brother Jon Scott and Jon's younger brother in law/Max's best friend Trey Holland's eyes.

So many books that deal with coming out at whatever stage in life generally steering towards either end of the spectrum for peoples reactions, one of shame, revulsion, hatred and even violence, or one of joy and acceptance, we very rarely see the middle ground, we very rarely see the confusion, the what ifs, the questioning of every touch, every hug, every conversation and every smile being examined under a magnifying glass. Even when those people come from a very tolerant upbringing, one in which they don't judge others based on their sexual orientation, where being gay is no more of a choice of being straight, there's an important lesson here, one that even the most tolerant of us in society may not even realise.

Many years ago, when I was in high school, at my fairly conservative all girls school, I had a group of best friends, we'd been together since primary school, nothing could break us, when rumors starting circulating that one of us seemed to be sexually ambiguous, feathers were ruffled, people were confused, not because someone being a lesbian was against our beliefs or our moral compass, not because we believed that she has a choice in whether she was attracted to men or women, but because members of the group started to feel uncomfortable, what about all of those slumber parties - sharing sleeping bags and beds, all of those times we changed in front of each other before and after swimming classes, what about all those hugs, and cheek kisses, and school girl conversations about kissing boys, and high school crushes and just how far you'd go with a boy you liked...all of a sudden their was a pink elephant as the newest member of our tight knit group, because could this girl, who was once our closest friend still do all those same things, could we still share a bed without her thinking more of it, was she attracted to all or any of us now because she liked girls, even as a 16 year old girl I remember not even considering it, thinking so few boys showed me any attention, chances were a girl wouldn't be interested either... but what I do remember is the rift it caused in friendships that we once believed to be infallible, because even the most liberal thinkers, those who wave a rainbow flag touting equal rights, are human, please don't mistake me saying this means I condone any form of homophobic feeling, but what I adored so much in Side A is that Lori took a much beloved character, one who was raised in a family that held a steadfast belief that love is love, regardless of race, gender, or background, and explored these feelings and situations like the one I experienced in high school, she gave voice to all these feelings and emotions that we sometimes don't want to address, she didn't just cast characters into two categories of hero and villain, but she had beloved characters wading into the grey in between as well.
"He is your son, and he was put on this planet for you to love unconditionally. Do that."

Our world is a grey place, it's not always right and wrong, we're human, with feelings and emotions, even the best of us can have moments we'd rather forget, we have moments where fear and curiosity win out over what is right, sometimes what we know isn't always what we thought we believed, there's a beautiful, heartfelt message here about the human condition, about friendship, about family - not just the ones we are born into but the ones we create, there's a hopefulness for a time when who someone loves won't be the source of pain and fear and destruction, when love is given freely and is unconditional.

Purchase Links:

Side A
Amazon US:
Amazon AUS:
Amazon UK:
Amazon CA:

 Blurb: Side B

Released: 21st October 2015.

In the second book of the LOVE LIKE WE DO series, SIDE B, Max experiences the excitement of first love and the crushing disappointment of rejection when he realizes that the person he cares for is too ashamed to be with him. For Callen to be honest with himself and to live the life he wants to live, he knows he risks becoming ostracized by his own parents and society. For someone who’s always been strong and confident, he’s never felt so weak or afraid to stand up for what he believes is right for him.

This is Max and Callen’s side of the story. This is not a standalone. Side A should be read first!

Purchase Links:

Side B
Amazon US:
Amazon AUS:
Amazon UK:
Amazon CA:

Kristine's Review: Side B
Reviewed: October 2015.

"I am everyway I'm intended to be..."

My heart sat in tatters at the end of Side A, not because it broke me, or but because my heart was over full, bursting at the seams, I felt every emotion ravage me while reading, I felt anger for the hatred people spew in the name of religion, I felt pain and hurt for those who stood by doing nothing more than just trying to support their loved ones, I felt shame that anyone could make another feel so low that they would consider living anything but an authentic life, for them being willing to sacrifice what they truly know will bring them happiness and joy in order to appease others, I felt deflated knowing with certainty that even in the 21st century we live in a world with enough fear and bigotry, that love which should be the purest of emotions can bring about so much hatred.
 "You make me a lot less ashamed."

"I don't want you to be less ashamed, Callen...I want you to be proud of who you are"
In side B we finally see Callen and Max's side of the events that transpired, we see the fear, confusion,  shame and regret that both Callen and Max have felt at some point, we see two sixteen year old boys face something that so many of us take for granted, I know with certainty that I will never have to justify why I am attracted to men, I'll never be questioned or looked down on because I'm a heterosexual woman, because it isn't a choice, I was born this way, it doesn't define who I am, it doesn't change or affect the way people view me. I have a large network of friends, some of which are homosexual, I've had them come out to me at different points in their lives, and it's never been an issue, I remember many years ago, when I was still a teenager sitting on my front porch, anxiously waiting for my friend to come over, he had messaged me saying we needed to talk... it sounded cryptic and ominous, he pulled up in my drive way and we hugged each other, we sat across from each other on uncomfortable metal chairs and chain smoked nervously while making do with small talk, I didn't know what was about to be said, he sat there fidgeting when he blurted out "Kris I need to tell you something....basically I'm a fag" I blinked, looked him in the eye and said  "yeah I know but what do you have to tell me?" tears formed, we hugged, him relieved, he told me later that he was nervous, scared of my reaction, he was the first close friend to come out to me, he wasn't the last and every time single time when I've had the same conversation with another friend scared and nervous waiting for my reaction, I still feel the same things I felt all the way back then... joy because in those split seconds they look as though a weight is lifted from their shoulders, I'm one more person they don't have to be fearful of their reaction, but also full of sorrow, that they were scared in the first place... I'll never know what it feels like to carry that burden, I've seen the devastating effects of hiding who you truly are, hiding your authentic self from loved ones in fear they can't accept it, but I will never truly know how it feels to think that you should be ashamed of who you love, that that one facet of the person you are somehow holds more credence over everything else, that being attracted to the same sex is somehow wrong.

 "For the record, I don't love any differently than you. The love I feel is the exact same love you feel."

Side B was honest and raw, and heartbreaking and poignant, I felt every single word of this story, I felt pain and shame, and hurt, and anger, heartbreak and weariness, I felt it all in spades, not just for Max and Callen, but for so many friends who have lived through this, for friends still living through it, for people struggling to live a life in which they have to sacrifice their own dreams for the future in order not to upset or anger those around them, being a teenager is hard enough, in the day and age of social media, body shaming and rape culture, where differences are scrutinised instead of celebrated, we live in a world that is slowly becoming more enlightened, but for anyone who has held a friend while they sobbed their way through the shame and confusion they wear as a cloak, where they believe that ending it all is an easier option than living an authentic life, we know it's not changing quick enough.

Side B has a beautiful message about coming out, being yourself and finding acceptance from within, it's message of strength, and healing and acceptance moved me in a way not many books have, it made me hopeful for a brighter future, and kinder world, where bullying of any kind will be a distant memory, but mostly Love Like We Do reminded me that love is love, and when you find it, it's glorious.

About Lori L. Otto:

After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Lori Otto worked in the billboard industry for ten years. Frustrated with trying to communicate entire messages in “seven seconds or less,” she decided to leave outdoor advertising and return to her love of creative writing.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for recognizing the writing talent of Lori Otto..... I have read all her books and always felt they deserved more recognition!!