Title: Mikey and the Chickadee
Author Name & Publisher: Kid Boise (Boise Urban Publishing Company)
Publication Date & Length: February 8, 2016 — 304 Pages
This is a novel about budding love between two men. It seeks to add quality writing and well-drawn characters to a growing pool of gay literature.
Wyatt and Mikey are young, fresh into their careers—and still have a lot to learn about themselves. They were fortunate enough to meet, but only time will tell if their new bond can weather the tumult and confusion that accompanies early adulthood…
“Mikey said things in a way that invoked visions of us spending time together in the future. I considered this while I watched the sun set out my window. Beyond houses, buildings and occasional fields, all of it racing by, I caught flickers of open water and the far-off levee holding it at bay. The next few miles were peppered with conversation borne, still, out of an inscrutable dose of caution and unfamiliarity. How does one coax something from a void? What kind of enigmatic force conjures a friendship between strangers? How fragile those first times together must be, yet with so much depending on them. For one covert second, I swelled with sadness, not just because a continued relationship with this beautifully unchained boy was so improbable, but for the tragedy of all friendships that died in infancy.”
I didn’t know what to expect from this novel. The blurb really says very little about the plot, so I went in without a whole lot of context. That ended up being perfectly fine. This is not a book with a whole lot of action or tension. It’s a slow-bloom strangers-to-friends-to-lovers that quietly contemplates the process of falling in love.
This is not a traditional romance–it’s almost analytical. Wyatt, the first-person narrator, thinks deeply about each new step in his complicated-yet-not relationship with Mikey. I say complicated because the line between them keeps moving as they get to know each other. Uncomplicated because their communication is open the whole time. They’re not leading each other on or hiding or lying; there are no big, horrible secrets they’re keeping from each other. Wyatt and Mikey are honest right from the start.
I’ll admit I was worried this would turn into a gay-for-you or an “anything but bisexual identity” story. To an extent, it is a bit of the latter, but it works for this context. Mikey is still a work in progress, so it’s reasonable he hasn’t made any conclusions. What I loved is that Wyatt absolutely, unquestioningly accepts Mikey exactly as he is. He never pushes, never pressures, never presumes. He isn’t put off by Mikey’s uncertainty and in fact seems to welcome it with open arms.
As much as I liked Mikey–and I did like him a lot–it was Wyatt who made me fall in love with falling in love. Wyatt is such a gentle and generous soul. It would be easy for that to be a bit much and for him to come across as too perfect. Yet somehow, he doesn’t.
Some readers might not like that the sex often feels a bit clinical rather than emotional or romantic. I found it refreshing, and I loved the way each time they were together we saw a slightly different angle on how they processed it. Mikey is trying to figure himself out, and Wyatt is trying to figure out how to aid him. So it’s not terribly surprising that their physical intimacy also has a vaguely analytical tone to it. I loved all Mikey’s odd little vocalizations–he always seems so surprised at how everything feels.
Although I had some serious issues with this book, overall I came to enjoy the characters and their story.
I found it difficult to really get into this. The language is stilted and confusing at times. I decided to push through until at least the half-way mark and then decide if I wanted to keep reading it. It was at about exactly half-way through that I finally found myself engaged with Wyatt and Mikey’s story. I think in part the writing style improved, but I think it was more that my interest in the story got me through it. The overall feeling I get is that the author is trying too hard. The writing just doesn’t flow, and some of the imagery is a bit odd.
There are definitely some good moments in this story. Wyatt and Mikey are charming and fun characters. The awkwardness in their relationship is somewhat endearing. Wyatt’s personal struggles really bring depth to his character.
Kid Boise was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. He earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho in 2012. He hasn’t quite settled down yet.