Paradise at Main and Elm
Finalist, 2013 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award
Finalist, 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association Literary Contest (“Ezra”)
2013 Book of the Year, On Top Down Under Book Reviews
Adrian Stockwell and Ezra Cherevin both battle the fallout from their broken families. Yet each one’s strategy is as different as each one’s past. Adrian’s childhood was left void by apathy; Ezra’s upended by violence. The written word soon becomes their therapy, their escape. This shared passion for literature is the vehicle that brings them together.
But their journey is filled with personal and familial potholes.
Can these two young men carve out a life together by learning to navigate a sea of challenges? And can the people in their lives do the same?
If you don’t read any other part of this book, and I’m not sure why you would not read it, you have to read the stories a younger Adrian wrote at Pembrooke School for Boys. The kerfuffle it caused – Barry Brennessel has short stories within the story to convey Adrian’s feelings, the way he vented – and the wonderful epistolary back and forth section of Chapter 8 ‘Then sudden waxed wroth…’ is clever, biting and telling all at once.
Paradise at Main & Elm is a literary piece of writing, but it is easy to read and not the least bit pretentious or pompous. It is LGBTQ, but at its heart is life, family and all its myriad difficulties. And that sometimes some people have a hard time. But it can work out pretty okay in a realistic fashion. Fractured souls can find one another in amongst the fracas of life and gain great comfort, solace and love.
—Kazza K. for On Top Down Under Book Reviews
I found this book quite intriguing. It’s a snapshot that illustrates who the characters are, backed up with flashbacks that show what went into making them who they are.
I really liked both Ezra and Adrian. They are two young men, both struggling with issues that have formed them. You can’t help but think that maybe that’ll be easier for them to do together, by the support and understanding they each give to the other. While their interactions together weren’t many, they were very sweet and I really loved them.
—Booksmitten for Live Your Life, Buy the Book
[Paradise at Main and Elm] is a look at two men who try to find their place in this world while dealing with their pasts. We meet a large cast of characters and we see how they came to be who they are.
Brennessel is quite a good writer. This is not the first book of his that I have read and he is the kind of writer that deals with characters beautifully—so much so that I feel like I have made friends with many of them.
— Reviews by Amos Lassen
The comfort these young men are able to provide for each other and the safety they find together just made me smile. The way Mr. Brennessel wrote them, it was apparent that they were made for each other. Whether he wrote them that way or muse made him do it, it was a beautiful pairing. It was worth the extra time to read and figure out the italics, because they gave vast insight into Ezra and Adrian and why they are who they are. It will take patience, but I highly recommend this book.
–Tina for The Novel Approach
So perfectly written, this novel was downright beautiful. I found myself starting it and never wanting it to end. I wanted nothing more than for Adrian and Ezra to be together. And when they did get together, I leapt with joy.
—Eric for MM Good Book Reviews