Books EW Elaine White November 18, 2019 923
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
POV: 3rd person, present POV, with 1st person flashbacks
Blue Jay is one of those stories that slowly grows on you and tugs at your heart. Much like the rest of the London Stories series. Each book is full of heartwarming characters who fight tooth-and-nail to escape the poverty and pain of their lives in the hope of something better. Though love is the driving factor of wanting a better life, it's really the character's own strength and resilience that sees them escaping the dangers and emotional pain of their old lives to find something new.
We know Chris – the MC – from both previous books in the series. They were the strength that kept Liam going, through his toughest times, and they're just as strong in this book. Before, Chris was almost exclusively male, but this book shows their genderfluidity much more clearly. At times, Chris is marked as she/her, then he/him, and more often they/them. I love this. So many authors have a genderfluid character using only one pronoun, but this really shows how fluid Chris is and what they prefer. I also love the way Alex learns to look at Chris and determine which pronouns to use by their presentation. It takes him a while, but it's a beautiful progression.
Alex is quite a naive and innocent character, so seeing him learn how to understand and read Chris is absolutely adorable. Despite being an ex-con, Alex isn't a tough guy, despite how he looks and his passion for boxing. He's a genuinely nice guy who suffered some bad luck and made some bad choices.
Chris is a sweet, vulnerable person underneath the brash exterior, who has suffered their whole life. For one reason or another, they've battled prejudice, assault, and judgement. As a genderfluid escort, with a drug-addicted and alcoholic mother, abused at an early age and constantly put into dangerous situations, it's no wonder that Chris has grown a tough-skin. But underneath all of that, they're still a little gooey and scared and gentle. Meeting Alex brings all that to the surface.
Together, I found Alex and Chris to be utterly beautiful as a couple. They brought out the best in each other, helped heal parts of each other that no one could ever understand never mind attempt to care for. And they never judged. Chris didn't look down on Alex for his past, and Alex never once tried to control Chris or force them to end their life as an escort. They wanted to keep each other safe, make each other happy, and be happy together. Other than that, they were so open and loving and caring that it was a truly beautiful thing to watch them grow closer over time.
The book differs from the others in the series in a few small ways. First off, Chris is the first MC who isn't a drug addict, fighting their addiction. Instead, they have other issues to battle. Secondly, Chris and Alex don't have sex with each other for a long time. Not until the last 20% of the book. This is important for their growth, both as individuals and within their relationship. I love that their bond was more emotional and heartfelt, to begin with. For that reason, the book was a little less angsty than before, with a more positive outlook for a lot of the book. Even though Alex had depression and the side effect of erectile issues, and Chris had a complicated history of constantly being stepped on, they were both generally positive people trying to move beyond their past.
As well as getting to see a dual POV between Chris and Alex that is pretty evenly divided, there are some events that demanded more. So, we get about a chapter that is divided between Dex and Liam's POV, as well as a switch to 1st person, for some flashback scenes. These are both very important, and I loved that Zukowski made the conscious decision to include them. Some authors add extra POV's that end up useless or unnecessary, while some don't add them when they are important. This time, they were both important and completely necessary.
I loved everything about Blue Jay, but I have to admit one of the most beautiful moments was when I finally understood the true meaning of the title.
“You are fine as you are.
It’s the most beautiful thing anyone has said to Chris in a long time. He blinks twice, unsure if happy tears are prickling him.”
“Few people see Alex’s harsh lines, brokenness and loyalty as beauty. Only Chris.”