||Dec. 3, 2011
After an abrupt encounter in a small woods of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Reid Conniff, a shy and studious high school distance runner, becomes swept up in the adventurous world of Everett Forrester, a privileged and capricious charmer. Overcoming the distance of their separate schools, parental interference, and a nearly fatal accident, the two young men find a way to be together in spite of their own doubts and fears. Set in 1979-1980, Every Time I Think of You recalls a halcyon era in America's past with a personal voice.
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Every Time I Think of You
"Jim Provenzano has written a tender, nostalgic tale in a simple yet elegant prose that comes straight from the heart. It's beautiful, literary, and effective without affectation. We are moved by these characters because we recognize in them our own once-believed indestructibility."
- Eric Arvin, author of Woke Up in a Strange Place, Simple Men and Subsurdity
"Every Time I Think of You is a rare combination of delicacy and power, a story of 'the unbearable weight of first love' told with both innocence and urgency by its wise and charming adolescent narrator. It rekindled faded memories of the intensity of youthful desire--the mystery, the promise, the excitement, the disappointment. Intelligent, subtle, and compelling, Jim Provenzano's novel is, most of all, audacious. Bravo!"
- Andrew W. M. Beierle, author of First Person Pluraland The Winter of Our Discothèque
Lambda Literary Review
(Jim Provenzano's 'Every Time I Think of You,') a 2012 Lambda Award finalist in romance–achieves the delicate balance of allowing its disabled teenaged protagonist to have a realistic sexual experience without fetishising “gimp” sex. Provenzano ably accomplishes this feat by focusing on the sweet relationship between our two teen heroes, Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester, within the larger theme of the naturalness of gay love. Provenzano brings out this theme through Reid’s interest in forestry.
Reid jokingly wonders about “the possible genetic side effects of orally ingesting the DNA of a loved one.” A long-distance runner and a thinker by nature, Reid tells Everett, “I remember asking my dad how something that existed on earth could be unnatural, when if it was a life form, didn’t that make it natural?” The boys once again find themselves in the woods in one of the book’s most intensely sexual scenes and Everett comments, “‘There are so many things we can’t do, places we can’t be ourselves. Here,’ his upward glance drew me to the dark tree branches, oaks mostly, canopied above us, ‘God sees us and likes it.’”
Even the boys’ names evoke the woods. The more physical, less cerebral Everett is dark and swarthy (Reid nicknames him Monkey), his love and attraction to Reid is spontaneous and natural, whereas the tall and somewhat gangly Reid’s response is more reflective. Their love is a force of nature. We are spared the clichéd motifs of the “coming out” story. While the boys’ families do play both positive and negative roles in their relationship, the difficulties that they face are not based primarily in familial homophobia.
Provenzano also artfully works in the theme of nature to suggest hope for Everett’s physical recovery, as well as, in a difficult moment in Reid’s and his relationship, the recovery of love:
Everett’s haircut looked odd, as if he’d been shorn. ‘Regeneration.’ I blurted. ‘What?’ Some random science fact had popped into my head. ‘Nothing, I just … Plants and trees can grow new branches even after they’ve been cut down, sometimes even after a fire.’ ‘Okay,’ Everett replied warily. ‘So, I should think like a tree?’
Provenzano’s sweet humor throughout the book is what makes it such a moving and satisfying read. While he certainly brings the reader to a deeper understanding of being differently-abled, he never resorts to preaching his message. These boys are too real for that.
Dan Woog, syndicated columnist, The Outfield
“[Every Time I Think of You] opens readers' eyes, minds and hearts to corners of the world they may never have realized existed. Everett's paralysis (he's clobbered by a lacrosse stick) is less metaphoric, more an opportunity to explore the effect of disability on two growing boys who just happen to be gay. It's not easy to write a novel about sports, gay teenagers and sex in (and out of) wheelchairs. Jim Provenzano has done it, with grace and power.”
Terry Wheeler, Out in Print
“Provenzano’s characters are rich and complex. Provenzano’s sense of pace and plotting are dead on, so things never drag, and his prose is straightforward and never showy. It’s a well-told tale whose aim to inform as well as entertain certainly hits the mark.”
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