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A Love Like Blood by Victor Yates

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A Love Like Blood by Victor Yates

Book Info

About the Author
Victor Yates was raised in Jacksonville, Florida and now lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in Windy City Times, Gorgeous, and Edge. As a graduate of the Creative Writing program at Otis College, he is the recipient of an Ahmanson Foundation grant. 

He is the winner of the Elma Stuckey Writing Award (1st place in poetry). Two of his poems were included in the anthology, “For Colored Boys,” which was edited by Keith Boykin. The anthology won the American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award. 

Also, he has taught writing workshops at the University of Southern California (for the Models of Pride Conference), Job Corps, Whaley Middle School (Compton), Gindling Hilltop Camp (Malibu), and Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy (Inglewood). A Love Like Blood is his first novel.
Publication Date
February 12, 2016
Content Warning
family violence (descriptive but not graphic)
Half Somali and Cuban, 17-year old Carsten Tynes, deals with the intricacies of race, Americanism, syncretism, migration, and sexuality under his dying father’s abusive hand in A Love Like Blood. Set in 1998, his family relocates to Beverly Hills, MI to expand their photography business. His father has lung disease and promises to give him the business if he marries his ex-girlfriend. Faced with an unwanted marriage and the slow death of his father, Carsten retreats behind his camera. His camera becomes the loose thread that slowly unravels his relationship with his father and reveals the unseen world of “men who move at night.” However, it is his infatuation with his neighbor, Brett that severs the symbolic umbilical cord between his father and him. When death pushes his father and Brett together, he makes a dangerous decision to protect them.

Editor review

1 review
Intense, deep, and enthralling
This is by far one of the best books I've read this year. The writing is phenomenal, really tight. Everything is woven together perfectly. Each scene is carefully detailed, reflecting the theme of photography, as though we are seeing the story like a photo album. In this case, although there is an ongoing plot, it's the individual parts which are most important. There is a running metaphor of blood throughout which comes up frequently and in different ways, big and small. The pieces all fall together exactly right in the stark ending.

I can't say enough good things about this book. This is not your typical contemporary gay fiction. It's highly literary, and for that reason it should appeal to a much wider audience. In my opinion, this is an absolute must-read. Although Carsten's sexuality is important to the story, and even though that is what it is generally about, this is much more to do with family and expectations and who Carsten is becoming. Readers might not share Carsten's specific cultural heritage or sexual orientation, but how he navigates both of these and the choices he makes as a result of his upbringing are things most readers can relate to.

The visuals are absolutely stunning. It is not so much that the scenes are described in accurate detail but that they are given life through Carsten's eyes. We're seeing what he wants us to, what his camera has captured and the way he wants to present it to us. I loved how even he is surprised by what he discovers at the end, as though the picture he thought he had is now revealed to be something else.

Carsten's vicious father is thoroughly unlikable, however, he isn't necessarily the villain despite his ongoing abuse of his sons. We catch glimpses of how Carsten's friend Brett views the situation as an outsider, and it's tempting to agree with him. Carsten won't allow it, however, revealing the details as though he's developing the film for us. Readers should be forewarned that there are scenes of violence; I found them to be more intense than graphic, but because of the sensitive nature of family abuse cycles, some readers may find it more difficult to read those parts.

Ultimately, this is far more about family, about where we come from and where we are going, than anything else. It's rich and detailed and absolutely gorgeous. I cannot wait to read more from Victor Yates, especially if this is the quality of writing we can expect.
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