Provenzano, Jim. “Message of Love: a Novel”, Myrmidude Press, 2014.
The Wait is Over
I have been waiting for the sequel to Jim Provenzano’s “Every Time I Think of You” for about two years and now it is here and it is every bit as good as I anticipated. Reid Coniff and Everett Forrester have now moved to Philadelphia where they can be closer to one another. Everett is a recovering paraplegic and his mother has pressured him to transfer to the University of Pennsylvania. Reid is continuing his studies at Temple and now what had once been a long distance romance has become an across town affair. They are lucky to have found an apartment that is homey and their relationship becomes stronger even with taking time to protest at disability rallies and taking short road trips. But all is not coming up roses for the guys. It is the 80s and looming on the horizon is the epidemic that decimated our community. As if that is not enough, a mysterious photograph of Everett appears. But enough about that—if you want to know more you will just have to read the book.
I suppose we can look at this as a sequel to the first book although it certainly can stand-alone. Provenzano attacks his novel on many different levels and I use the word attack in a positive way. This could have easily become a melodrama were it not for the writer’s skill in the way he handles the story. In the 80s, it was not easy for gay men to openly address love for each other and coupled with that is Everett’s disability and the oncoming threat of AIDS. I was a college professor in the 80s and it was during that decade that students took their education very seriously (and I do not mean that it is less different today but it was the 70s and 80s when the children of immigrants to this country began their matriculation into schools of higher learning and for many families, their children were the first to receive a college education).
Provenzano shows us that love can survive even the darkest of experiences—it just takes the desire to want to make it do so. I think that sometimes we forget that we have to work at love—it is just not handed to us. By having a disabled main character, Provenzano shows us that the possibility of love also depends upon the people involved. If you doubt the concept of romance, read this and watch it come back into your life.
Reading this, for me, was like visiting a time capsule of my younger days when there was not so much to worry about until the plague changed the way we lived. But then seeing the difficulties that sometimes come with love awakened me. We forget that relationships require commitment and to read about that reminds that all of us have to strive to be better than we are. Provenzano has created two very special characters and we love them as we read. The writing is fresh and we certainly feel the love leave the page. I really like when an author loves what he is saying—we sense that in his words and tone. It takes a brave man to write about love with a disabled person yet we feel no pity for Everett because we see him as one of us. This is a skill that this writer has and it makes me proud to say I know him and value his writing.