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Release Day Review: Believing Rory, by S.C. Wynne

 
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Release Day Review: Believing Rory, by S.C. Wynne

Book Info

Authors
About the Author
S.C. Wynne started writing m/m in 2013 and did look back once. She wanted to say that because it seems
 everyone’s bio says they never looked back and, well S.C. Wynne is all about the joke. She loves writing m/m and her characters are usually a 
little jaded, funny and ultimately redeemed through love. 

S.C loves red wine, margaritas and Seven and Seven’s. Yes, apparently S.C. Wynne 
is incredibly thirsty. S.C. Wynne loves the rain and should really live 
in Seattle but instead has landed in sunny, sunny, unbelievably sunny 
California. Writing is the best profession she could have chosen because
 S.C. is a little bit of a control freak. To sit in her pajamas all day 
and pound the keys of her laptop controlling the every thought and 
emotion of the characters she invents is a dream come true.

If you’d like to contact S.C. Wynne she is amusing herself on Facebook at all 
hours of the day or you can contact her at [email protected]
Author Website
Publication Date
April 29, 2016
Pages
206 pages
Content Warning
,this is MY warning,

Bereavement, suicide (attempted and actual) child rape by a teacher and its aftermath all appear here.
Note
Filed on personal Goodreads shelves: 2016 Divine Magazine, 2016 4 star reads, darker/grittier, male/male, over 18, romance
Excerpt
I GUESS I’m the stupid one for believing Rory.

I’m angry at him. I know there’s no point in that, because not only is he nowhere around to feel my wrath, he wouldn’t care if he was. 
Rory always went his own way. I needed him more than he needed me. Obviously. He proved that when he leapt into the great unknown without 
me. I can barely handle staying in my old, familiar life, untethered from him.

Is it weird that my skin hurts? I’m so depressed my flesh actually aches. The ends of my hair feel sensitive as I watch Mrs. Greg 
approach with my math test in her hand. A bright red C sits at the top right of the paper. Thank God, I passed. My mom will take away my laptop
 if I fuck up in school again. Especially this close to graduation.

“I expected more from you, Lane.” Mrs. Greg sniffs and adjusts her black-rimmed glasses farther up the bridge of her nose.

I take my paper, feeling the eyes of the class on me. They probably all think I’m stupid. I’m not. I wonder how well they’d do on a
 math test if their best friend died the day before. I think a C is just fine, considering. Obviously I’m the only one who thinks that way since
 Mrs. Greg is still giving me a disapproving look, and the redheaded girl next to me is shaking her head. I want to skip ahead to lunch where
 I can tell Rory about how judgmental they’re all being. He’d rub my head and tell me to relax. You’re overthinking things again, L, he’d say with his white grin splitting his face.

But Rory’s dead.

My stomach rolls and I stand abruptly, knocking into my desk. “May I go to the bathroom?” Mrs. Greg hates letting kids go during 
class. But there must be something in my expression that softens her. Or maybe she just doesn’t want me throwing up in her classroom.

“Don’t be long.” She hands me the key with a huge wooden plaque attached.

I jangle my way through the hall and hurry to the bathroom. I slam into the stall and unload everything in my stomach. Then I sit 
breathing like a racehorse, with tears streaking down my cheeks. I don’t know what to do with all the rage I feel toward Rory. It feels like 
it’s eating me from the inside. I want to punch something. But instead I sit in a pathetic, crumpled heap, sobbing onto the wooden plaque with a
 key attached.

The bathroom door squeaks open and two guys come in. They’re laughing and fooling around. There are two stalls, and I’m occupying 
one. I peer under the fiberboard walls and glimpse expensive orange and black hi-tops. One person takes a piss while the other guy talks to him.
 I scramble to my feet and, keeping my gaze averted, go to the sink area and splash cold water on my cheeks. The guy waiting finally shuts up 
and takes the stall I just left, as the other person comes around the corner and stops when he sees me. Then he continues on to wash his 
hands. Good bathroom manners. It’s a rarity among high school boys.

“Hey,” the guy says. He’s blond with spiky hair and the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He’s watching me like he expects a response. Of 
course he would. Anyone well-bred enough to wash their hands after peeing expects a response when they speak to you.

“I have permission to be here.” I don’t know why I say that. We aren’t in prison, although sometimes it feels that way.

“Are you okay?” He sounds genuinely concerned.

Of course not, I want to scream. But instead I drop my gaze and turn to the door. “Is anybody?” I say finally as I leave.

Lunch is torture. If you’re dumb enough to only have one real friend to sit with, it kind of leaves you in the lurch if he kills 
himself. I’m not hugely popular. I’m not actually unpopular either. I’m one of those invisible kids who flits through the school years not 
leaving much of a mark on anything. God, maybe Mrs. Greg and that redheaded girl are right, and I am pathetic.

Somebody punches my shoulder. Wincing, I look up from my yogurt to find Mason Price standing over me. He’s the school clown. His talent 
surpasses just class clown. “I’m sorry about Rory,” he says gruffly.

He’s the only person who has even said a word about Rory dying. I’d have never expected such compassion from someone who sticks straws 
up his nose for a laugh.

“Thanks,” I say.

He punches my shoulder again and moves off. I guess hitting me makes him feel like less of a wimp when he offers me sympathy. I rub my 
shoulder and watch him join his friends. Someone plops a tray down across from me. Judy from science class has decided I need a pep talk. 
She has her hair dyed pink, with purple tips. Her makeup is similar to an anime character’s with thick eyeliner and long fake lashes. She pops 
open her grape soda while staring at me. The color of the can matches the ends of her hair.

“You should have taken today off.” Her voice is gently chiding.

I stare at her wordlessly. If it were up to me, I’d take the rest of the school year off. But my mom wasn’t having any of it. She 
screeched at me until I was dressed and in the car. I didn’t have the energy to fight her. I just did as she said and now here I sit with my 
yogurt.

“There’s a suicide support group on campus. You should probably go.”

I wrinkle my brow and just watch her.

“Not that you’re going to hurt yourself. But they help the people left behind too.” She gulps her soda, her throat muscles moving up and 
down with each swallow.

Left behind. Fucking Rory left me behind.

“I’ll take it under consideration.” Wow. That was oddly formal. What, am I running for Congress or something? I’m finding it impossible 
to be normal. Well, my normal.

Her brown, makeup-enhanced eyes soften. “Rory was a dick.”

I should slap her for defaming my beloved friend. My lifelong buddy who jumped off a parking structure and left me all alone to face 
this fucked-up world. I’d rather hit Rory.

I nod.

She crunches her way through a bag of chips as she continues to study me like I’m bacteria lying in a petri dish. Then she says, “You 
can always talk to me if you want. I know you’re shy, so maybe a big group thing isn’t for you.”

Why does she care? I’ve had maybe three conversations with her in four years of high school. She wants to be a psych major—maybe that’s 
it. They love psychoanalyzing everyone. It makes them feel less crazy.

Somebody has carved their name into the top of the table along with a heart. Steve + Sally 4-ever. I trace my finger into the grooves, wondering if their undying love has survived high school. Steve would never off himself and leave Sally alone. The table wiggles and I notice Judy is getting up to leave.

“See you in class, I guess.” She wanders away into the crowd of students. She’s still easy to spot with her pink hair, though. Maybe 
that’s the point.

When I get home, the house is empty. My mom must be picking up my little brother, Kit. My stomach clenches when I think about how upset Kit was when he found out about Rory. He idolized Rory. I guess it isn’t that unusual for a twelve-year-old to look up to an older kid. At the back of my mind is the nagging question: why doesn’t he idolize me?

After I grab a pudding cup from the kitchen, I turn on my laptop and sit staring at the screen as everything loads. I’m bursting with the
 need to do something about my feelings concerning Rory. But I can’t think what that might be. The idea of going to that group Judy mentioned
 makes my flesh crawl. Do I think I’m better than all those people? Is that it? The more I think about it the more I realize that can’t be it. 
It’s probably that I don’t want them to see into me. They might find out what a nothing I am. I wasn’t even able to save Rory.

I think about how he was on the last night we had together; not counting having no appetite, he seemed like he was in a good mood. He 
hadn’t been lately. In fact, he’d been very introspective the last few weeks. But that final night, he had me fooled. He’d kicked my ass at League of Legends, just like always. You’d think if you were planning to kill yourself you might be distracted and not play as well. Why would you be concerned 
with your ranking? But he had laughed a lot and elbowed me when I sulked at losing. Just like always.

I’m going to start a blog in memory of Rory. I need to say some things and I can’t find the words in real life. But not a typical blog. 
This one is where I’m going to say how mad I am at him. Why do I have to be nice about things? He wasn’t very nice when he killed himself 
without even saying good-bye. Besides, no one is even going to see this blog but me.

I find WordPress and I make an account. A lot of the blogs have cute kitten and puppy pictures. I’m not sure what that’s about. I decide
 to use pictures of just Rory since he’s the subject matter. I stare at one of the photos I’ve used as wallpaper for my site. Rory looks back at
 me, smiling. I lean closer and notice that his grin doesn’t reach his eyes. Was that a warning sign I overlooked? Is it possible to scrutinize
 a person’s every smile? I’m mad at myself for believing Rory when he said he was better.

He obviously wasn’t.

This blog isn’t going to be long-winded. Maybe it will actually be more of a journal than a blog. In fact, it will be more of a “thought
 of the day” type of thing. This will be my sanctuary. Somewhere I can come and jot down my feelings. No one will know it’s me, so that is sort
 of freeing. I can say whatever I want and vent about Rory. I’m going to call it Ranting about Rory. Maybe I should make it private? I tap my 
chin trying to decide. I’m inclined to make it public. Maybe if someone stumbles across this page, they will gain insight. Perhaps they’ll 
succeed where I have failed. Maybe they will be able to save the Rory in their life.

I write my first post:

May 14

Rory killed himself. I didn’t even see it coming. I want to punch his fucking face in.

I read and reread my post many times. I think I’ve captured my emotions quite succinctly. I hit Publish and click out of the page. 
There’s a knock on my door and my mom comes in.

“It was a crazy day at work, so I brought Chinese food home. Dinner is in ten minutes.” She studies me in that way parents do when 
they’re worried but don’t want you to know it.

“Okay.” I drop my gaze to the tan carpet and chew my lip.

“How was school?”

“Fine.” Do kids my age ever give any other answer? I think parents keep hoping we’ll come up with something interesting to say 
about our day. I certainly never seem to.

She clears her throat. “You know you can talk to me if you ever need to, right?” She sounds breathless.

Nodding, I meet her nervous gaze. “Of course.”

“It must be hard for you.” She winces.

I just stare because I have no idea what to say back. I’m frozen. Numb.

“I just keep thinking how Rory’s parents must feel.” Her voice trembles. She blinks rapidly as if fighting back tears, and my stomach 
begins to churn. Oh, God. If she gets emotional, what should I do? Hug her? I’m really not a hugger by nature.

Does she not know Rory wasn’t close to his mom and dad? His dad doesn’t even live there anymore. He’s made a new family across town with
 a younger wife. Rory’s mom was working so much she didn’t seem to remember she had a kid still at home. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t 
love him, I guess. It’s not fair of me to blame her for not seeing the signs. That would be a little hypocritical of me.

“At least he didn’t do it at home where she would have been the one to find him,” I say softly.

My words do little to comfort my mom. I can tell this as any color she had in her cheeks drains away. She presses her lips together 
and says, “You would tell me if you had bad thoughts again like Rory. Right?”

God. I have so many bad thoughts I would never tell my mother. She probably means suicidal. I have those too. I’m not comfortable 
telling her that, though, because of the other time. Certainly not now, so soon after Rory. I don’t want her to worry. I want her to wipe that 
frightened, stressed look off her sallow face and cheer up.

I suck in a big breath and then smile. My face feels like it’s about to crack, my skin is so tight. But I concentrate on crinkling the 
skin at the corners of my eyes. That’s where a false smile can give you away. I noticed it in Rory’s photo, where the smile didn’t reach his 
eyes. He should have crinkled the skin more like I’m doing, if he really wanted to fake a good smile.

I say what I think will comfort her. I’ve heard her say this before, and I know if I say it, she will think we’re on the same page 
about suicide.

“Rory took the coward’s way out.” I keep good eye contact with her to make it believable. God, this is so much work, trying to seem so 
sincere when I’m this depressed.

She slumps with relief. My words must have calmed her a bit. “Yes.” She nods and leaves my room, closing the door quietly.

I sink onto the mattress and curl up in a ball, feeling sick. I didn’t bother to mention to my mom that while I actually do think 
suicide is the coward’s way out, I myself am a bona fide coward.
Will Rory bring them together or stand between them? 

Eighteen-year-old Lane Graham has always relied on his braver, more confident buddy, 
Rory. But Rory’s sudden suicide blindsides Lane and sends him into an 
emotional tailspin. How’s he supposed to start college in a few months 
feeling this damaged? 

Baron MacDonald knew Rory from playing League of Legends together. He was always intrigued by Lane’s online 
presence, and Rory had promised to set them up. Now that Rory’s gone, 
Baron has to approach Lane on his own. 

On the surface, Baron and Lane couldn’t seem more different. Baron is confident and serious, and 
Lane is guarded and uncertain. But it’s the pain beneath the flesh that 
binds these two souls together like barbed wire and cement.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Difficult but excellent reading
(Updated: April 29, 2016)
Overall 
 
4.0
Independent reviewer for Divine Magazine, I was gifted my copy of this book.

Rory was Lane's best friend. Rory broke Lane when he did what he did, and left him all alone. Baron was friends with Rory via an online game, and he had wanted to meet Lane before Rory...went. When Baron meets Lane properly, the two boys bond over Rory, the shared experience and over each other.

I usually steer clear of books with high school/college aged characters, but something about this one grabbed me. I'm so glad it did.

Although these boys (and I will call them boys, even though they are 18 and technically, adults) are finishing up high school, they have both been through a great deal. Different trauma, but equally heartbreaking. I won't tell you what, exactly, for that will be spoiler-ish but the trigger warning at the end of my review will give you some idea. It makes for very difficult reading in places. At one point, I wasn't sure I was going to continue, but I am so glad I did.

I'm glad that Lane and Baron get their *mostly* happy ever after but I would have loved an epilogue. Didn't have to be too far ahead of the end of this one, just to show us how well they were getting on, together.

Also, Baron needed a say. Because he has a lot to say and we don't get it. Only Lane is given a voice here, and I would love for Baron to be able to tell us what happened to him, to be able to get into his mind as much as we do Lane's.

Bereavement, suicide (attempted and actual) child rape by a teacher (and the aftermath of that) are contained in this book, and reader discretion is advised.

Because I wanted and epilogue, and because Baron did not have his say...

4 stars

**same worded review will appear on Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Kobo**
DA
Top 10 Reviewer 114 reviews
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