Luke Hale is a widower with a single teenage son named Emmet. Luke’s life is a shambles. He was a punk wannabe artist in his youth, but he lacked any focus or direction. He met a girl named Riley, and after getting her pregnant, they married and had Emmet. Eventually, they grew apart, and later Riley died. Now, Luke only has Emmett, who hates his father, and Luke hates himself for being a failure.
Landon Larsen is a divorced dad with a son named Bowen. They are very close. Landon is very supportive of his son, but he’s also firm with him. Bowen is on the high school varsity football team, as is Emmet, and the two boys are best friends. Luke is encouraged to join the boosters organization, and that is when his life begins to change. His relationship with Emmet opens up, and he can’t stop thinking about Landon. Landon’s life also changes as he can’t stop thinking about Luke. Can both men overcome the emotional baggage they are carrying?
Tal Bauer is one of those authors whose works I will read immediately. He has a gifted way of making the characters come alive, warts and all. You feel Luke’s bitterness and self-doubt. There are also Landon’s insecurities and fears that almost feel palpable. You become fully invested in them because they are so beautifully written. Then there is the setting. Bauer has placed this story in a small Texas town where their primary religion is high school football. Bauer’s description of the school games and their atmosphere immediately brought me back to my days in high school. As a high school marching band member, I played during the half-time shows, and I clearly remember the energy present at every game. There was an excitement that was always in the air. Bauer successfully infuses this story with that same electrical excitement. However, football isn’t the only vital plot element here.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Landon was at one time LDS (Mormon). What is fascinating are the details of the LDS faith, which include the Temple Marriage. I was impressed at how accurate, and respectful Bauer treated these aspects of the LDS faith. This is one of Bauer’s greatest strengths. Regardless of the settings in his stories are told, the details are fleshed out to where everything happening feels visceral. Bauer has a gift for making both his characters and his world come alive, and You & Me is no exception. Bauer capitalizes on this quality when the subject of substance abuse comes up. How it happens is both shocking and heartbreaking. It not only turns the story on its head but also serves as a beautiful turning point for two of his characters. The result is a book that I could not put down. Compelling characters with an equally compelling story made You & Me one heck of a page-turner!
Given that You & Me is a same-sex male romance story, it would only be fair to say that there are plenty of scenes of an explicitly sexual nature and should be read by those 18 years and over.
Once again, Bauer has proven why he is currently one of my favorite authors. I never expected to be so drawn in and moved by a book with high school football as its backdrop, but his passionate writing for the subject was translated onto the written page and felt alive by this reader.
I give You & I 5 out of 5 Footballs!!!
You & Me is available on Amazon in both print and for the Kindle. Tal Bauer also has the website, Tal Bauer.