Title: Under a Sky of Ash
Author Name & Publisher: Brandon Witt (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: March 21, 2016 – 270 pgs
More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.
Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.
Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.
Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.
This story will stay with me forever. I cannot recommend this one enough from the bottom of my heart and with all my soul. I just forewarn you to have a box of tissues ready to blow your nose from the emotional heartbreaking discovery to wiping your eyes from laughter.
It is truly extraordinary, captivating and exceptional how Mr. Witt was able to combine these two polar opposite of emotions into one soul-ripping tragic yet soul-filling beautiful love story. The way he was able to compile and weave this tale of mystery, abuse, soul finding, forgiveness, love and imagery was just breathtakingly phenomenal.
After I finished reading, I was left literally and utterly speechless, in a good way. Bravo, Mr. Witt, Bravo. I only hope I can give the utmost respect and justice you and this story should receive. After reading the blurb, I knew this was going to be a story that hit home, and I was not wrong. This story became personal to me and I was not disappointed at all, except to say, I wish it was longer.
Isaiah Greene, who is a special education teacher (like I am), happens to be the teacher of Aaron. Ben Woods happens to be Aaron’s Big Brother through the Big Brother program.
Aaron’s emotional disability constantly gets him referrals and Ben gets brought in one of these meetings and meets Isaiah. They both want what is best for Aaron. As they get to know each other and fall in love, they both share secrets from their pasts that are each excruciatingly and devastatingly painful. The imagery that Mr. Witt painted will cause your heart to break. You must read to find out, as there are twists and turns. Remember I mentioned this was a roller coaster? Take a motion sickness pill if you must, it WILL be worth it. Isaiah and Ben’s backgrounds are ones that I truly wish would never happen, but I have known cases a little too close to those of these men and of course, I see Aaron’s life on a daily basis. On the flip side, the love and laughter of drag queens throughout this tale was just the icing on the dessert. Who doesn’t love drag queens, with their banter of fashion, old soul compassion, full of life and sage advice, and hearts of gold?
I have to admit, I never thought I could find a story that I would shed tears from chapter one all through to the end and constantly switching from laughing tears to emotional heartbreaking tears. I read this story in one sitting. I was sucked in from that first chapter and could NOT set this one down. I just forgot to buckle my seatbelt and grab those tissues as I went on this roller coaster ride of emotional love story. You will most definitely visit every emotion available. This story has ALL the feels.
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….