The year is 1987. The boys wear pink Izod shirts, the girls wear big hair, everyone has a stash box, and AIDS is just an ugly rumor rumbling like a thunderstorm from the cities. A teenage runaway wanders the side of the road, a heartbeat away from despair, and is rescued by a long-haired angel on a Harley. But that's just the beginning of their story. Josiah Daniels wanted peace and quiet and a simple life, and he had it until he rescued Casey from hunger, cold, and exhaustion. Then Joe's life is anything but simple as he and his new charge navigate a world that is changing more rapidly than the people in it. Joe wants to raise Casey to a happy and productive adulthood, and he does. But even as an adult, Casey can't conceive of a happy life without Joe. The trouble is getting Joe to accept that the boy he nurtured is suddenly the man who wants him. Their relationship can either die or change with the world around them. As they make a home, negotiate the new rules of growing up, and swerve around the pitfalls of modern life, Casey learns that adulthood is more than sex, Joe learns that there is no compromise in happy ever after, and they’re both forced to realize that the one thing a man shouldn’t be is alone.
First Place: The William Neale Award for Best Gay Romance
Second Place: Best Gay Novel/Book
Someone Like You
THE kid was cold. Casey could see that as Joe puttered past him in the tree-shaded twilight of Foresthill Road near Sugar Pine Lake. It was November and in the forties this time of night, and the lost thing on the side of the road was not dressed for the weather. He didn’t look good at all. His lips were blue, his thin arms folded in front of him were paler than the grimy T-shirt, and his cheeks were hectically flushed.
And his eyes were dead.
Casey reached from under the fleece-lined leather lap robe that nestled him in the cozy sidecar (complete with a little space heater at his feet, because Joe took care of details like that) and tapped Joe’s thigh, but he didn’t need to bother. Joe was the same guy he’d been twenty-five years earlier. He could spot a miserable runaway a mile away.
They pulled the cycle over to the side of the road, and Casey took off his helmet—because he knew they looked scary when you were cold and alone on the side of a country road—and called out.
They’d passed the boy up, walking in the opposite direction, and Casey could see the kid’s shoulders stiffen as they called out to him.
“Yeah?” he asked, like he was bracing himself for a blow.
Casey and Joe met eyes. Casey sighed and got out of the sidecar, then walked carefully to about five yards from the boy. A big enough distance so the kid could run away if he felt like he needed to, and close enough so he could see that Casey, at forty-one, was probably fit enough to catch him, and maybe mean enough to give chase.
“Kid, look. It’s going to dip into freezing tonight. Can we take you anywhere?”
The kid narrowed his eyes, and he gave a convulsive shudder. “I….” He closed his eyes. “I don’t got nowhere to go.”
Casey nodded, because they’d known that. “We’ve got a spare bedroom,” he said cautiously. “For the night. No strings. We’ve even got some food.”
Oh, God. The eyes on this kid. Brown, deep, and terrified.
“I….” The kid shivered again. “I don’t got no money, but I can”—he grabbed his crotch uncomfortably—“I can pay.”
Casey wrinkled his nose. “You see that graying bastard on the back of that motorcycle?”
The kid looked up. Joe was sitting there, his comfortably wrinkling face sunk into what looked to be a habitual scowl but was really just a thoughtfulness almost out of place in this century. His gray-and-white ponytail was sticking out from under his helmet like a barely contained coal brush, and he had a fairly frightening Fu Manchu mustache with matching soul patch. He was easily six feet five inches tall, and his shoulders were (at least to a young man’s eyes) as broad as a barn. He was one of those men who became thick with age in spite of the best efforts of diet and exercise, and he looked like one hammer swing from his fist would effectively dent the hood of a half-ton pickup.
The kid’s eyes grew huge. “Yeah,” he whispered, obviously scared of what came next.
“He keeps me plenty busy. And if I slept around, he’d kill me. And if he slept around, I’d geld him. I’d say you’re safer in the spare bedroom of two old queers than you are almost anywhere else in the county.” Casey lowered his voice. “Including, maybe, your own home.”
The kid looked up, and something dropped from his eyes, and what was left was naked, feverish, and damned near to done. “I’ll do anything,” he begged.
“No worries,” Casey said, keeping his voice low and soothing, like he would with a wild bear or a rabid chicken. “Here. We’ll let you sit in the sidecar home. We’ve got a spare helmet; it’s nice and warm. It’ll be good. Trust me.”
The kid cast a hunted look at Joe, who was watching the two of them with serene curiosity. “That guy—that guy’s not gonna….” He shuddered.
Casey rolled his eyes. “Kid, you should be so lucky. But no. I worked too hard to make him mine, okay?”
The kid looked dubious, and Casey smiled to himself. Odds were good they’d take the kid home, give him a couple of warm meals, and find somewhere for him to go live. Maybe, if he was like some of the other strays they’d picked up, he’d stay a few months, or maybe a few years, but either way, the kid had nothing to worry about from Josiah Daniels. Joe was 100 percent decent—and 110 percent Casey’s. But even if the kid did end up placed with them, and even lived with them for years, he probably would never hear the whole story. That story was for Casey and Joe alone.
The kid looked at the sidecar again, and the lines of his face, bitter and saturnine—even at what? Fifteen? Sixteen?—eased for a minute.
“Would I really get to ride in that?” he asked, and Casey got a glimpse of little kid in the bitter, tattered thing on the side of the road.
“Yeah!” Casey grinned at the kid and then looked at Joe with the same grin. Something in Joe’s slightly weathered fiftyish features softened, and the kid looked quickly from Casey to Joe and back again.
“He really likes you,” the kid whispered, and Casey shrugged.
“Yeah. Yeah, he really does.” The kid didn’t have to know how long it took Casey before Joe admitted to it. “So, kid, you want to use our spare room? We got a mother-in-law cottage. You can sleep there if you want.”
The kid looked hungrily at the sidecar, with the fleece lap robe and the spare helmet Joe was casually pulling out from underneath the seat. Then Joe added the kicker—an extra peanut butter and jelly sandwich that they’d packed before they’d set out on the bike that afternoon. They’d ended up eating out at The Oar Cart anyway, but the sandwich had let them ride farther before they turned around. Casey could tell when the kid spotted the sandwich. His tongue must have smacked on his palate about six times. Then Joe pulled out the little takeout box from The Oar Cart, the one with half a pound of meat and sourdough bun in it, and Casey could smell the aroma of world-famous burger from where he was standing. He thought the kid was going to swoon.
“I don’t care,” the boy said, swallowing. “Maybe your house… just for a night.”
Casey grinned again and held out his hand. “Casey,” he said. “Casey Daniels.” Somewhere out there was probably a birth certificate and a Social Security card and a thousand other things that proclaimed he’d been born with a different name, but he couldn’t find them, and Joe didn’t know where they were, and even Casey’s driver’s license said Casey Daniels now.
“Austin,” the kid said earnestly. “Austin Harris.” He had brown hair that looked like it had been hacked off in the back, sides, and front, and teeth that hadn’t been brushed in too long. Casey reached out his hand again, and the kid shook it, tentatively.
“It’s not clean,” he said by way of apology, and Casey shrugged, wiggling his fingers.
“Skin washes,” he said with quiet optimism. “Here. You eat on the way, and you can take a shower before you go to sleep, okay?”
The kid shivered all over and squeezed his eyes tight shut. “I think I have lice,” he said, miserable, like this confession cost him everything.
Casey grimaced. “Well, thanks for warning us. We’ll be sure to treat that helmet with the disinfectant shit when we get home.” He pursed his lips. “I think we’ve got a lice comb and some mineral oil—or would you rather just shave it off?”
The kid shook his head. “I don’t care,” he said, shivering. “Food, a place to sleep, a door… shave me bald, I don’t care.”
Casey gestured toward the motorcycle. “Go get yourself settled in. Try not to spill too much on the lap robe. That was a present.”
The kid didn’t hear that last part. He was trotting toward the sidecar like it was a little slice of heaven. Casey followed more sedately, wondering if they were going to wake up with their throats slit and their television gone but thinking probably not. He knew this kid, knew what he wanted—had been this kid.
He got to the motorcycle and planted his hands easily on Josiah’s strong shoulders, swung his leg around, and got his feet settled on the pegs.
“You know who that kid reminds me of?” Joe told him as they watched the kid fumble with the helmet strap and get settled under the lap robe, huddling down near the space heater using as much play as the seat belt would give him.
“Yeah, I know,” Casey said, resting his cheek against Joe’s back, careful of clunking the state-of-the-art bright turquoise helmet on his head against Joe’s back, or against his no-nonsense-black helmet, with too much force. Joe could take it—the sonuvabitch was strong—but Casey wouldn’t ever do anything to cause him pain.
“You only think you know,” Josiah said softly. “You’ll never know what it costs me, seeing you in them, again and again and again.”
“But you take them in, every time,” Casey reminded him, tightening his grip around Joe’s waist.
“Yeah, well, what else would I do?”
“Not a damned thing.”
The kid had overcome the adjustment shivers and was starting to plow through the food. They had about a half an hour before they got to their own little piece of Foresthill, so Joe didn’t waste any time kick-starting the bike and roaring back onto the road.
He wouldn’t do a damned thing different, and Casey wouldn’t want him to. After twenty-five years, that was saying something.
Because Casey wouldn’t change it either.
"This was characteristic Amy Lane, complete with bouts of simultaneous tears and laughter, and even more occasions of one or the other. The story was sweet and touching, neither too angsty nor too syrupy, though there were certainly moments of each. This was a wonderful warm, sweet glow of a story."
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Amy Lane has taken two ordinary lives and shaped them into something wonderful, mundane, sad, and happy.
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I laughed and cried and adored every single word in this novel.
I'm going to preface this review by saying two things. One, I waited to write this review until I had read this three times. I wanted to make sure I wrote the best review I could and the one that said everything I needed it to say. Two, Sidecar by Amy Lane is my number one most favorite book of all time. Hopefully my review will explain why.
The story begins with 16 year old Casey, a runaway thrown out of his home for being gay, having the best fortune in the world by crossing paths with Josiah Daniels (Joe), a 27 year old nurse raised Quaker who has made his life out of taking in strays and caring for them. Casey isn't the first stray, but he ends up being the one who stays. Now Casey realizes pretty quickly that Joe is nothing like the Big Daddy's who picked him up for the last two months. Joe is a good man who talks to Casey as if he matters, something his own parents never did. It's not hard to see why Casey develops a crush on Joe. Joe knows it, but he has morals and Casey is just a kid. Joe is determined that Casey will be allowed to be a kid for as long as that lasts.
"But, then, life with Casey would tend to be that way for Joe - moments of gorgeous, shining faith and moments of agonizing, painful doubt. Joe was young in his way too. It would take him years before he recognized the ebb and flow of true love."
Watching the friendship build between Joe and Casey is phenomenal. Joe is not a father figure, not a boyfriend. He's more like an older brother and best friend who loves Casey for everything (good and bad) about him. The safe sex talk is funny and heartbreaking in this day of HIV/AIDS. Joe is just the kind of guy you wish every single homeless runaway in the country would be lucky enough to find. He's just that special.
Time goes on, Casey grows up and the inevitable happens. Joe looks at Casey and realizes he wants to touch him. And thru all the angst to get together and start a love relationship, you witness something beautiful and tender and momentous as these two men make their journey together. And you get to watch something very, very sexy.
Joe and Casey go through boyfriends, girlfriends, school, work, death, family, jobs, friends, kids, dogs, cats, parents and love, a lot of love. And a lot more strays come their way. You get to watch life in its worst and best moments.
"You'll never know what it costs me seeing you in them, again and again and again."
When you start reading a book that from the note from the author touches your heart and soul you can only think that the story is going to be good.
Oh ... Josiah and Casey's will make you believe through tears and laughter that you can change someone's life just buy caring enough about them.
It took Josiah time to understand that Casey was all he wanted and needed but even though the realization came when he almost lost him ... Nonetheless he always treated Casey with humanity and respect ...
After being a couple ... They got the reward they always wanted ...
Family is all that mattered ...
Amy Lane has written again a wonderful book.
Casey has run away from home after his parents found out he was gay. He has been living on the streets for two months, surviving every day by doing unthinkable thinks and hanging on by a thread. He wants to give up and end his suffering, but just went he thinks he can't continue on a kind biker comes into his life offering food and shelter without wanting anything in return except that Casey finish school and enjoy what is left of his teenage years.
Josiah is a kind soul that believes that every one deserves a chance. He has lived his life and done things he's not particularly happy to revisit but doesn't regret. Now that he has settled into his life he only wants the peace and quiet that his house and his dog offer and he is determined to keep it that way. Until he sees Casey walking along the road. Believing that he could help the young man, Joe offers him help wanting to have Casey safe from the cold and fed.
What's not to love about this story? Joe and Casey's story was one on love, heartache, compromise and loyalty. With interesting characters, great humor, engaging dialog and musical references this emotionally driven story had all the elements I have come to expect from Amy Lane and then some. From the humor to the pain each man felt at times, Amy Lane brought a range in emotions so great that at times I had to step away to get a grip on myself.
Joe and Casey's story tugged at my heart strings and left a grin on my face days after I was done. It was sweet, romantic and so very heartfelt. I loved it!!! It's Amy Lane and she has not disappointed me yet.
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