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Nicole Marie Sorkin

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Thursdays With Death
by Scott Knutson

A series of conversations and experiences with the Grim Reaper that lead a man down a humorous, educational, challenging, and ultimately death-altering path toward enligh..  
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Friends 2 Lovers, By: Jonathan Anthony Burkettís
Thursday, August 09, 2012  7:14:00 PM

by Nicole Marie Sorkin



Romance
Claude and Kelly have been best friends ever since they were in elementary school, when a one year younger girl named Kelly had stood up for Claude when he was getting beat up by some of his schoolmates. Ever since then, Claude thanked her and felt that he owed her so much, that he would always try to be there for her whenever she needed someone. Best friends forever they had then told one another, throughout all trials and tribulations.

 Reading Jonathan Anthony Burkett’s "Friends 2 Lovers: The Unthinkable" (“F2L”), one can’t help but suspect that more than a bit of the author’s personal life spills over into the story.  In this case, while it’s troubling to imagine that in real life someone struggled through challenges similar to those of Charles Daniels (the book’s main character), reality spilling over into fiction gives the story a strength and sense of realism it might otherwise lack. 

 
Well written- and well thought out- "Friends 2 Lovers" takes it time letting its story unfold- while never dragging- giving us a picture of a young boy on the cusp of manhood, forced to grow up much faster than his family would have liked to have seen. In a series of violent, revenge motivated confrontations, his father and older brother are killed, as is one of his closest friends-- on the same day that his grandmother dies of a heart attack. As if that weren’t enough to turn Claude into a head case, his distraught mother- overwhelmed by the death of her mother, husband, and oldest son, commits suicide, along with a friend.
 
Now you may be thinking this is all way over the top, but the reality is, for all too many urban poor, this is how their lives can play out. Regardless, Mr. Burkett’s story telling skills are up to the task, so that you never think or feel that he has pushed the realism envelope too far.  Moreover, all of the bloodshed and death is only the starting point for what turns into a story about love and the decisions Claude must make in moving forward. 

And perhaps his single biggest decision is what his relationship with Kelly will be. Kelly is the girl who he has practically grown up with. And from their days of eating cereal as young kids together to high school, she has always been a part of his life. With the death of so many around him, Kelly, and her mother Mrs. Brown, are the only real constants left in his life...the only people trying to hold on to him and keep him from following a path that will no doubt mean an early death for him.  But despite the bond between them, and a growing love, Kelly may not be enough for Claude, and Claude might not be enough for Kelly. 

To Mr. Burkett’s credit, while this is ultimately a love story, it’s not a love story that plays out with the promise of Claude and Kelly living happily ever after. Even as their relationship grows, it is challenged time and again by the realities of life for a young man who has lost so much so quickly.
 
This book will draw you in, and even if you think you know where it’s going, it keeps you turning the pages. 
Pacific Book Review

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