“Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into” - Mahatma Gandhi

Growing up isn’t easy, beyond the quiet memories and stable lives most people aspire to have; life itself can be complex without having a tragedy to complicate it further. A lot of books toy with the idea of self importance while very few deal with creating self awareness.

Kevin Dwyer’s novel, ‘Pride of Love’ tells the story of a young boy Jesse who has to bear the brunt of a hate crime done by a couple of ignorant and sadistic bigots. Jesse and his mom are forced to leave town to escape the scrutiny of curious onlookers and for him to find some sort of a closure. Even though he won’t admit it, he’s looking for a voice that will understand him, soothe the scars on his mind and body. A change in scenery soon reveals that Jaden is the voice Jesse was looking for and he too is a misfit in society who also had to suffer unimaginable abuse at the hands of his father. Together now, they both try to forget their harrowed past, and the love they find in each other helps them discover themselves better.

It’s a novel about the normal everyday folks that you meet in small towns across the country, there are very few characters around but they are all finely etched out. The author deserves special mention for creating two 'real’ people as the main two leads with whom the reader will instantly bond with. Jesse and Jaden are two wonderful characters and their interactions with each other, their individual emotional scars and the healing process involved in getting past them are all well documented. Teenagers and young people growing up everywhere have a plethora of problems to address while growing up, fitting in or finding acceptance in the eyes of the society see them go through familiar problems of alcohol & drugs, sex & relationships, and in the midst of all this when they have to come to terms with their sexual orientation as well, it ends up making them feel like complete social outcasts. And this is where Kevin Dwyer’s brilliance comes in, by being able to talk about all this in a non condescending and non confrontational manner while narrating a highly addictive story is just good mastery over the craft. The love story between Jesse and Jaden is beautifully and simplistically done and this has been achieved without unnecessarily highlighting the fact that it’s a gay love story.

Kevin’s attention to detail is astounding; it’s almost like he wants you to see, hear, smell and feel the scenes along with him. Nothing escapes his eye and yet nothing unwarranted gets in the field of vision either. Equally praiseworthy is the fact that the author did not try to rush the romance between Jesse and Jaden, but allowed it to develop organically. The camaraderie amongst the other secondary characters is also beautifully written. There is a lot of powerful imagery that is brought to life by great writing. The best thing that can be said about Kevin’s writing is how he makes you forget the fact that you are reading a book; this is more so evident in the emotionally charged scenes which are of plenty in this novel. There is a nice little courtroom drama at the very end, which is the perfect parting gift this novel can offer to its readers.

Even with a theme that many people would consider as sad and slightly melancholic, the author has managed to come up with a uplifting book about young people finding hope, faith and love and through it all themselves in this wonderful little novel. I would recommend this book to a wide variety of people, it’s definitely a story to be read and reread many a time.