Monday, December 22, 2014

Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger

Almost Like Being in Love
5 Stars

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“All the music of life seems to be
Like a bell that is ringing for me
And from the way that I feel
When the bell starts to peel
I would swear I was falling, I could swear I was falling
- It's almost like being in love”

This book. This little book that I didn’t even remember putting on my to-read list until Heather K posted that there was a massive price drop and I decided to bump it to the top of the stack. This book made me feel . . .

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ALL of the feels. I may have literally barfed a rainbow at some point from all of the happy.

This is the love story of Craig and Travis over the course of 20 years . . .

“If I could write the ending ahead of time, Travis and Craig would live happily ever after. But somehow I think it’s going to be a little more complicated than that.”

It’s the tale of how the two met their senior year in high school and how their relationship went from friendship . . .

“Neither of them seemed to be in much of a hurry to break the mood, and if you didn’t know any better, you’d swear they were falling in love. There was a song about that once.”

to love . . .

“Travis was the love of my life. It happened when we were in high school, it ended when college separated us, and I can still taste our first kiss in the rain.”

It’s about the summer they spent together before heading off to college . . .

“It was only for eight weeks and I guess I should have seen the handwriting on the wall – but when you’re 18, you always think it’s going to last forever. It doesn’t.”

It’s about comparing all other relationships to that one . . .

“You’re the only one. No matter what happens, you’re the only one.”

And it’s about seeing if first love can really be forever love . . .

“Romance isn’t just about roses or killing dragons or sailing a kayak around the world. It’s also about chocolate chip cookies and sharing The Grateful Dead and James Taylor with me in the middle of the night, and believing me when I say that you could be bigger than both of them put together, and not making fun of me for straightening out my French fries or pointing my shoelaces in the same direction, and letting me pout when I don’t get my own way, and pretending that if I play “Flower Drum Song” one more time you won’t throw me and the record out of the window.”

But oh my goodness it is so much MORE than the little synopsis tells you. Almost Like Being In Love had everything:

1. A romance that was heavy on the storyline and light on the sexy-time (there’s a time and a place, and this wasn’t the time or place for me);
2. Real love that developed over time – you know, like in real life – NOT instalove;
3. An ensemble cast (this isn’t just Craig and Travis' love story – it’s also the love story of TWO OTHER RELATIONSHIPS in the supporting cast of characters) filled with EXCELLENT best friends;
4. A ROAD TRIP. God I love road trips;
5. Humor. This book has it;
6. Baseball references. I actually didn’t even pay attention to who the author was when I started reading until these started popping up and reminded me of a little book I read awhile ago (My Most Excellent Year). Turns out they are by the same dude . . . and I’m not sure why, but I love his love for baseball;
7. Epistolary format. It either works or it doesn’t and Kluger makes it work; and
8. Show tune references. Call it clichéd, but once again this book manages to do it right.

As Ethel Merman once said: “Who could ask for anything more?”

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There aren’t enough words for me to describe how much I loved this story. I don’t hand out 5 Stars easily, and Steve Kluger has now earned TWO of them from me. I’m pretty sure I need to read everything else he’s ever written. If you want to smile until your face hurts, you should read this . . . and if there is a brain out there in all of La-La Land, someone is already trying to negotiate for the movie rights. 

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