Title: A Love Like Blood
Author Name & Publisher: Victor Yates (HIllmont Press)
Publication Date & Length: February 12, 2016 – 202 pgs
Half Somali and Cuban, 17-year old Carsten Tynes, deals with the intricacies of race, Americanism, syncretism, migration, and sexuality under his dying father’s abusive hand in A Love Like Blood. Set in 1998, his family relocates to Beverly Hills, MI to expand their photography business. His father has lung disease and promises to give him the business if he marries his ex-girlfriend. Faced with an unwanted marriage and the slow death of his father, Carsten retreats behind his camera. His camera becomes the loose thread that slowly unravels his relationship with his father and reveals the unseen world of “men who move at night.” However, it is his infatuation with his neighbor, Brett that severs the symbolic umbilical cord between his father and him. When death pushes his father and Brett together, he makes a dangerous decision to protect them.
I wanted to really like this story – I tried very hard to get in to the flow of reading, but Yates’ style and me – we just didn’t mix well.
That being said, the story was well written, but I found it somewhat strange in how it flowed. It was incredibly descriptive and I liked how you were able to picture the scenes in your head as you were reading, however, it also became, at times, somewhat tedious.
Overall, this was a great story about a very taboo subject for Somali culture. I loved how you were given a glimpse of the culture, and even though Casten’s dad is less than agreeable, you can really see how their family dynamic has shaped the family as a whole.
While I did enjoy the premise of this story, it just didn’t really work for me. However, I will not give up on Yates – his writing intrigues me.
Victor Yates was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and now lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Windy City Times, Gorgeous, and Edge. As a graduate of the Creative Writing program at Otis College, he is the recipient of an Ahmanson Foundation grant.
He is the winner of the Elma Stuckey Writing Award (1st place in poetry). Two of his poems were included in the anthology, “For Colored Boys,” which was edited by Keith Boykin. The anthology won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award.
Also, he has taught writing workshops at the University of Southern California (for the Models of Pride Conference), Job Corps, Whaley Middle School (Compton), Gindling Hilltop Camp (Malibu), and Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy (Inglewood). A Love Like Blood is his first novel.