All We Have Is Now
Following the death of his partner of eight years, middle-aged stage actor Ian McBride spends the next twelve years alone, making his mark and creating a name for himself within the Washington, DC-area theater community. During a production of Shakespeare’s Tempest, Ian finds himself as the unwitting object of the affections of his fellow cast member Jimmy - a young man who happens to be more than twenty years Ian’s junior. What begins as a friendship between seasoned expert and star-struck novice evolves into a passionate love affair.
Within a year after Jimmy accepts Ian’s invitation to move in with him, he is killed by gay bashers while home in Texas visiting his family for his mother’s fiftieth birthday. The incident makes headlines both locally and nationally, and Ian is immediately thrown into the spotlight. Given Jimmy’s sexual orientation and the circumstances leading up to his murder, trying to honor his memory - as well as their relationship - becomes a formidable task in small-town America. Building a bridge between himself and Jimmy’s family presents enough of a challenge to Ian, but fellow townspeople are even less accepting, and Ian’s own safety is ultimately at risk. Jimmy’s grandmother, Livie, takes a liking to Ian and turns out to be someone he can depend on, as well as confide in about Jimmy and the sentiment left behind.
The latter part of this story borrows too much from Matthew Shepard’s real-life murder, particularly the trial and testimony from the culprits. Yet the story is a grim and important reminder of how commonplace such incidents are in every region ranging from the rural to the metropolitan. Early in the novel, Ian and Jimmy’s courtship seems a bit rushed; while life experience has taught Ian that no relationship is perfect, I would have preferred to have gotten to know both characters a little better as a couple. Still, the book is a mostly enjoyable read about how relationships start and end, and a testament to the importance of appreciating what you have, especially while you still have it.
by Robert Taylor