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Lone Stars follows the arc of four generations of a Texan family in a changing America. Julian Warner, a father at last, wrestles with a question his husband posed: what will you tell our son about the people you came from, now that they're gone? Finding the answers takes Julian back in time to Eisenhower's immigration border raids, an epistolary love affair during the Vie Lone Stars follows the arc of four generations of a Texan family in a changing America. Julian Warner, a father at last, wrestles with a question his husband posed: what will you tell our son about the people you came from, now that they're gone? Finding the answers takes Julian back in time to Eisenhower's immigration border raids, an epistolary love affair during the Vietnam War, crumbling marriages, queer migrations to Cambridge and New York, up to the disorienting polarization of Obama's second term. And in these answers lies a hope: that by uncloseting ourselves--as immigrants, smart women, gay people--we find power in empathy.


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Lone Stars follows the arc of four generations of a Texan family in a changing America. Julian Warner, a father at last, wrestles with a question his husband posed: what will you tell our son about the people you came from, now that they're gone? Finding the answers takes Julian back in time to Eisenhower's immigration border raids, an epistolary love affair during the Vie Lone Stars follows the arc of four generations of a Texan family in a changing America. Julian Warner, a father at last, wrestles with a question his husband posed: what will you tell our son about the people you came from, now that they're gone? Finding the answers takes Julian back in time to Eisenhower's immigration border raids, an epistolary love affair during the Vietnam War, crumbling marriages, queer migrations to Cambridge and New York, up to the disorienting polarization of Obama's second term. And in these answers lies a hope: that by uncloseting ourselves--as immigrants, smart women, gay people--we find power in empathy.

30 review for Lone Stars

  1. 5 out of 5

    Justin Deabler

    Hello! I wrote this book and wanted to share a little about my inspiration. Really I started writing it to try and answer questions that there was no one around left to ask. Much of my extended family is gone. I lost my mom rather suddenly twelve years ago, and my dad can be hard to locate. I wanted to understand better where I came from, so I followed the scraps of stories my parents told me about themselves and each other, and their own parents, and I rooted through papers and old boxes of thi Hello! I wrote this book and wanted to share a little about my inspiration. Really I started writing it to try and answer questions that there was no one around left to ask. Much of my extended family is gone. I lost my mom rather suddenly twelve years ago, and my dad can be hard to locate. I wanted to understand better where I came from, so I followed the scraps of stories my parents told me about themselves and each other, and their own parents, and I rooted through papers and old boxes of things they left behind, and I tried to stay open to the places where they led me. In the process, I found that I was writing a story about Texas, where I grew up, and about migration. Immigrants who cross national borders to find a better life. Queer people and misfits, who can’t live where they are born and so they leave for safer lands. This book is inspired by my own family’s story, and at forty-three years old I’m only now beginning to appreciate how much we live in the echoes of all that came before us.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyn❤Loves❤Listening #AUDIOBOOKADDICT

    Audio - 5 Stars Story - 5 Stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    This is a well-written familiy saga which explores discrimination, racism, adoption, same sex relationships, and other topics. The characters are well developed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Lone Stars is a multigenerational story of love, pain, equality, and struggle. The story takes off with Julian Warner discussing what he and his husband will do when their son asks about Julian's family. With a series of flashbacks from the moment his mother hit adolescence, to marriage, and child bearing years, we see the story of love and pain. A world torn apart through war and the struggle for acceptance. This story is a heavily drawn character study on the Warner family and their story Lone Stars is a multigenerational story of love, pain, equality, and struggle. The story takes off with Julian Warner discussing what he and his husband will do when their son asks about Julian's family. With a series of flashbacks from the moment his mother hit adolescence, to marriage, and child bearing years, we see the story of love and pain. A world torn apart through war and the struggle for acceptance. This story is a heavily drawn character study on the Warner family and their story in American history. We touch upon tough subject matter including; the Vietnam War, immigration, same-sex marriage, and religion. A beautifully told portrait of an American family.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent novel from Netgalley, Justin Deabler, and St. Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Justin Deabler writes a tight family saga with protagonists you feel you know. Some of them, I'm afraid to say, I'm probably kin to. This is a debut novel, but you won't know it by the stories here. Justin Deabler writes with heart. We f I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent novel from Netgalley, Justin Deabler, and St. Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Justin Deabler writes a tight family saga with protagonists you feel you know. Some of them, I'm afraid to say, I'm probably kin to. This is a debut novel, but you won't know it by the stories here. Justin Deabler writes with heart. We follow four generations of the Warner family through the ins and outs of central Texas from the late 1960s through the 2000s. We see the Vietnam War through the eyes of Texas boys. We live it, through the rise and fall of the first air-conditioned events stadium, the Houston Astrodome, the growth of and the sudden death of Enron, the loss of the space shuttle Challenger, the rapid growth of Houston. Especially, we see the problems with the border of Mexico, the efforts we must make to help immigrants settle into life as we know it here in the U.S., and the inroads made through these years into finding equality for our minorities, the LGBT community, immigrants, and women in our world today. This is a book to savor, with protagonists who matter to you immediately, going through life challenges that we have each faced ourselves, in one degree or another. It is a joy to watch as the world begins to adapt to a more liberated community of folk. There are days you might need a microscope to see progress, but we ARE finding our way to a more equal standard. pub date changed to Feb 2, 2021 Reviewed on January 27, 2021, at Goodreads and Netgalley. Reviewed on February 2, 2021, on AmazonSmile, Barnes&Noble, BookBub, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

  6. 5 out of 5

    fanna

    May 20, 2020: This is going to be so emotional with these important themes, uff.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    I loved this book! It’s very well-balanced. A lot happens to the characters, but it never feels excessive or overloaded. You never feel like the author is piling things on just to pile things on. I also love that even though this spans 60 years of American history, everything in it still feels completely relevant to today. It reminded me a lot of The Heart’s Invisible Furies & I think anyone who enjoyed that would enjoy this book too. I received a free ARC from NetGalley.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    At first, the pace of this epic, multi-generational story as it moved through the early generations caused me to lose interest a little, but they were important to understand the lives that eventually led to Julian. By the midpoint, I was so enmeshed in the family that I cheered for every choice that led to success and lamented every decision that led to failure. I cried when lives and marriages fell apart, but the ultimate note of hopefulness that the book ends on made the entire rollercoaster At first, the pace of this epic, multi-generational story as it moved through the early generations caused me to lose interest a little, but they were important to understand the lives that eventually led to Julian. By the midpoint, I was so enmeshed in the family that I cheered for every choice that led to success and lamented every decision that led to failure. I cried when lives and marriages fell apart, but the ultimate note of hopefulness that the book ends on made the entire rollercoaster worthwhile. A really stunning story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Traci

    When Julian finally has a baby of his own, his husband, Phillip, asks him what he’s going to tell their son about his family. One night while soothing the baby, Julian spends some time thinking about his past and his family’s past in order to find the answer to that question. This novel is really the story of Julian’s ancestors, starting with his grandparents in Houston and Midland and ending with Julian and Phillip in New York. This family goes through so much change. It’s sweeping and knocks y When Julian finally has a baby of his own, his husband, Phillip, asks him what he’s going to tell their son about his family. One night while soothing the baby, Julian spends some time thinking about his past and his family’s past in order to find the answer to that question. This novel is really the story of Julian’s ancestors, starting with his grandparents in Houston and Midland and ending with Julian and Phillip in New York. This family goes through so much change. It’s sweeping and knocks you off your feet and even though it’s sometimes very hard to feel any strong emotions one way or the other for a multigenerational family because you cycle through them so quickly in just 300 pages, I genuinely thought that every character had such a unique voice and displayed so much personality and emotion that I got misty-eyed more than a few times reading this. They were all flawed and while I was thrilled to see the character growth in some of them, it all still made so much sense that everyone reacted the way that they did. There is a lot of history covered in this book: from Eisenhower to Obama in presidencies! And it all felt authentic and genuine and fortunately not rushed at all. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mairy

    What a riveting debut novel! How I enjoy those multi-generational family sagas, and this one did not disappoint. The main protagonist is Julian Warner, a young genius who discovers his gayness in a very realistic manner and who is so lucky to have such a loving and dedicated mother like Lacy. Never have I read a LGBTQ book whose main focus is not on gayness, it was so great and refreshing. I enjoyed seeing him grow up and go through all those life stages we all go through, no matter our sexual o What a riveting debut novel! How I enjoy those multi-generational family sagas, and this one did not disappoint. The main protagonist is Julian Warner, a young genius who discovers his gayness in a very realistic manner and who is so lucky to have such a loving and dedicated mother like Lacy. Never have I read a LGBTQ book whose main focus is not on gayness, it was so great and refreshing. I enjoyed seeing him grow up and go through all those life stages we all go through, no matter our sexual orientation. It is interesting to note the recurring theme of rejection and shame, starting with Julian’s maternal grandmother and the denial of her Mexican roots, which can be understandable when put in context, followed by Julian’s father and his difficulties accepting his son for who he was, and finishing with Julian being ashamed of his mother when comparing her to his wealthy in-laws. The beauty of it all is that, no matter our flaws, no one us is perfect. Despite that, the people in our lives love us by accepting who we are. This is what is so beautiful in this story, and much needed to hear in a time where we all pretend to be someone we’re not on social media. I also have to point out the love story between Lacy Adams and Aaron Warner that was so romantic! I was swooning over those two: the way they fell in love before they even met while corresponding during WWII was so Hollywood-esque! This is my favorite LGBTQ novel ever, I don’t recall ever reading one that did not revolve around the protagonist’s sexuality. This one is meaty; it has a lot of content and would be a smart book club selection. Thank you very much Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for this e-ARC in exchange of my honest opinion.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    This is a lovely big hearted novel about a family which will linger in your mind. Lacy was the smartest girl in town; her mother, who had a secret, wanted her to be pretty. Aaron was the smartest boy in his town as well but when he doesn't make it into medical school, he finds himself drafted. These two become unlikely pen pals during the Vietnam war and then, on the day Aaron finally gets back to the US, they marry. Their son Julian watches their marriage fall apart even as he discovers his own This is a lovely big hearted novel about a family which will linger in your mind. Lacy was the smartest girl in town; her mother, who had a secret, wanted her to be pretty. Aaron was the smartest boy in his town as well but when he doesn't make it into medical school, he finds himself drafted. These two become unlikely pen pals during the Vietnam war and then, on the day Aaron finally gets back to the US, they marry. Their son Julian watches their marriage fall apart even as he discovers his own sexuality. He too is the smartest kid in town and ends up at Harvard, where he meets and ultimately marries, Phillip. That's the outline but what's within is the story of a woman whose intelligence is squashed by the system pushing her out of a Phd program, a troubled man who finds solace in cheating on his wife, and a son who spreads his wings. Lacy does everything she can for Julian and after he graduates for the gay kids at the high school where she teaches. This opens with Julian reflecting on the son- Pabl0- he has adopted with Phillip. I would have skipped the prologue, which to my mind didn't add because it removed the tension from their effort to have a child but no matter. I loved these characters, especially Lacey, loved the small things (the Ren faire!), the big things (what we hide from ourselves and others). Deabler is a terrific storyteller and I found myself unable to put this down. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. I loved this one and highly recommend.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Doug Reyes

    While I loved the premise, the writing is unfortunately too pedestrian for me. It’s charming in concept, family stories to pass on... and regrettably that’s how it reads, like stories told affectionately at family reunions and dinners. ...the kind of stories that make anyone outside the family listen politely, but ultimately forget.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    I loved this book. It’s a multi-generational family saga that takes place in Texas where the hair is big, people pray at the altar of football, you’ve got to go along to get along and if you are even slightly different than everyone else life can be harder than it has to. Julian ponders the question asked by his husband “what will you tell our son about your family history and from whence you came?” The writer takes us along on Julians journey through generations to figure out who he is and how I loved this book. It’s a multi-generational family saga that takes place in Texas where the hair is big, people pray at the altar of football, you’ve got to go along to get along and if you are even slightly different than everyone else life can be harder than it has to. Julian ponders the question asked by his husband “what will you tell our son about your family history and from whence you came?” The writer takes us along on Julians journey through generations to figure out who he is and how he came to be. The writing is exquisite, loving, kind, explores so many different and important times in our history and interestingly so many of the issues that were relevant then are no less relevant today. Immigration, war, LGBTQ, racism, bigotry, politics……And how each factor in to Julians life road of experience. Please do yourself a favor and read this book slowly and take it all in. It's an emotional story that will leave you better for reading it. I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to Netgalley, St. Martins Press and Justin Deabler

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shannon K

    I'm still parsing through all of my thoughts on this one a bit, but overall I really enjoyed this debut by Justin Deabler; I think this would a really interesting book to discuss with a book club. I love a good multi-generational family story and this one definitely delivered on that front. I was quickly sucked into the story and trying to figure out where it would all lead. In particular, it made me think a lot about how we are shaped by our parents'/family's pasts, even the parts we may not kn I'm still parsing through all of my thoughts on this one a bit, but overall I really enjoyed this debut by Justin Deabler; I think this would a really interesting book to discuss with a book club. I love a good multi-generational family story and this one definitely delivered on that front. I was quickly sucked into the story and trying to figure out where it would all lead. In particular, it made me think a lot about how we are shaped by our parents'/family's pasts, even the parts we may not know about. There were some parts of the family's story that I was hoping we'd eventually get more clarity on - but perhaps that was the point, that some things will remain somewhat unknown? I was completely engrossed for the majority of this book but then there was something about the ending that left me a bit dissatisfied - and I'm still trying to figure out what exactly it was. 4/5 stars Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara Broad

    "Lone Star" by Justin Deabler is a fictional story that centers around Julian Warner and the history of the family that raised him. Deabler's inclusion of many different topics like racism, discrimination, coming out, and same-sex relationships and adoption made this a really interesting read. The beginning of the story made me think the focus of the book was Julian and Phillip's journey into parenthood, but Deabler takes the reader into the distant past, through Julian's childhood, and into his "Lone Star" by Justin Deabler is a fictional story that centers around Julian Warner and the history of the family that raised him. Deabler's inclusion of many different topics like racism, discrimination, coming out, and same-sex relationships and adoption made this a really interesting read. The beginning of the story made me think the focus of the book was Julian and Phillip's journey into parenthood, but Deabler takes the reader into the distant past, through Julian's childhood, and into his current life. This is definitely an enjoyable read that will make you feel a multitude of emotions.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Enjoy character-driven historical fiction. Librarians/booksellers; This is a sensitive and moving portrayal of family history, and the difficulties in escaping it and facing it. Although relatively brief when compared to other historical fiction novels, this is quite memorable; touches on everything from upward mobility, women's empowment, divorce, coming of age as a young gay man in the 1990s, and the heartbreak and uncertainty of adoption. Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Read if you: Enjoy character-driven historical fiction. Librarians/booksellers; This is a sensitive and moving portrayal of family history, and the difficulties in escaping it and facing it. Although relatively brief when compared to other historical fiction novels, this is quite memorable; touches on everything from upward mobility, women's empowment, divorce, coming of age as a young gay man in the 1990s, and the heartbreak and uncertainty of adoption. Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I received an electronic ARC through NetGalley. This is the author’s debut novel, and I look forward to reading whatever he writes in the future.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Lone Stars is a gripping and thoughtful debut novel about how our histories and our families impact our future. 4 generations of a family, living in and shaped by Texas, current events, faith, prejudice, and determination. The stories intertwined wonderfully, often taking my surprise. The characters were complicated, weighed down by life and expectations, each generation learning and growing from the one before.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    Got this rec from Lone Star Literary Life, a FB page with book reviews for Texans who live where the local newspaper doesn't have book reviews 🙋🏻‍♀️ Usually all Texas writers or books about Texas Got this rec from Lone Star Literary Life, a FB page with book reviews for Texans who live where the local newspaper doesn't have book reviews 🙋🏻‍♀️ Usually all Texas writers or books about Texas

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nelda Brangwin

    Another outstanding debut novel this week. Deabler’s protagonist is a gay man who grew up in conservative Texas. Julian mother doted on him, recognized his intelligence, and homeschooled him for his early years. His father, a Vietnam veteran, had girlfriend after girlfriend and the marriage finally ended in divorce. Justin struggled with his sexual identity, but entering Harvard early, he could finally become the person he really was. In the introduction, we are introduced to Justin and his husb Another outstanding debut novel this week. Deabler’s protagonist is a gay man who grew up in conservative Texas. Julian mother doted on him, recognized his intelligence, and homeschooled him for his early years. His father, a Vietnam veteran, had girlfriend after girlfriend and the marriage finally ended in divorce. Justin struggled with his sexual identity, but entering Harvard early, he could finally become the person he really was. In the introduction, we are introduced to Justin and his husband as they welcome a new baby to their home. The book, at times, was uncomfortable as the reader became emotionally involved with Julian, but in the end, it is a triumph on standing up for who you are.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keren Krinick

    Wow! "Lone Stars" by was an incredible novel. This book was rich with honest examination of parenthood, human flaws and strengths, being gay, relationships, motivation to do better than our parents, and the underlying current of our ancestors. Was interesting and engaging at every page. I highly recommend this book. Thank you NetGalley, Justin Deabler, and St. Martin press for the early reader addition. all opinions are my own. #StMartinsPress, #LoneStars Wow! "Lone Stars" by was an incredible novel. This book was rich with honest examination of parenthood, human flaws and strengths, being gay, relationships, motivation to do better than our parents, and the underlying current of our ancestors. Was interesting and engaging at every page. I highly recommend this book. Thank you NetGalley, Justin Deabler, and St. Martin press for the early reader addition. all opinions are my own. #StMartinsPress, #LoneStars

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I'm not always a fan of historical fiction but this was an interesting take on many events in our past--most of them I remember. Julian and Phillip are pondering how much to tell their young son about their families; we then go back in time to understand where they came from. The book deals with immigration, infidelity, fear of coming out, and political intrigue from Eisenhower to Obama. Thank goodness we have come a long way! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC! I'm not always a fan of historical fiction but this was an interesting take on many events in our past--most of them I remember. Julian and Phillip are pondering how much to tell their young son about their families; we then go back in time to understand where they came from. The book deals with immigration, infidelity, fear of coming out, and political intrigue from Eisenhower to Obama. Thank goodness we have come a long way! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    I guess I should have read the description a bit better, but I gave it my best shot and got to 55%. Then I closed it and said, “self, you don’t have to finish this”. When a book makes you feel uncomfortable and anxious, I have to call it quits. I am a 64-year-old grandmother, have two nephews that are gay and I respect their choices. But I do not want nor need to read about, observe or inquire of their personal sexual relations. This story crosses that line. The first half of this book is good, I guess I should have read the description a bit better, but I gave it my best shot and got to 55%. Then I closed it and said, “self, you don’t have to finish this”. When a book makes you feel uncomfortable and anxious, I have to call it quits. I am a 64-year-old grandmother, have two nephews that are gay and I respect their choices. But I do not want nor need to read about, observe or inquire of their personal sexual relations. This story crosses that line. The first half of this book is good, it starts out with Lacy and Julien’s early life, then about 50% in, it takes a dive and that was it for me. I even started flipping thru trying to see if it got better and I couldn’t find it. Sorry, this one comes in with 2 stars since the first half of the book is really not bad but then there should be a gay sexual alert in the description due to the content. I think this story had potential if the author could have just stayed with the family saga and the trials and tribulations of immigration, but it tipped over into politics and intimacy. Quick turn off for me. I was given the opportunity to read an ARC from St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for my honest unbiased review. This one comes in with 2 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Novels and Nummies

    4/5 ***Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of Lone Stars in exchange for an honest review*** I really liked this book. I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it has LGBT+ themes. This book was done in a masterful way and handled a wide arrange of social topics well. From racism, sexism, homophobia, and blatant forms of discrimination, this book followed a family and their collective histories. Although a lot of the issues were tackled very 4/5 ***Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a copy of Lone Stars in exchange for an honest review*** I really liked this book. I am a sucker for historical fiction, especially when it has LGBT+ themes. This book was done in a masterful way and handled a wide arrange of social topics well. From racism, sexism, homophobia, and blatant forms of discrimination, this book followed a family and their collective histories. Although a lot of the issues were tackled very lightly I satisfied with how they were presented (the author did not include unnecessary drama). This book was an outstanding read and I would recommend it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    willowdog

    Multi-generational look at Julian Warner life and family through the 50's and into the 2000's packs an emotional punch at times. His conservative Texas childhood, loves, coming out and marriage are set in the changing history and issues of the period. Often, I thought that Julian is more of a observer of the issues; I would have liked to see more conflict. However, Deabler is very effective in presenting his characters. One feels for them. Thanks to the publisher and Above the Tree for this elect Multi-generational look at Julian Warner life and family through the 50's and into the 2000's packs an emotional punch at times. His conservative Texas childhood, loves, coming out and marriage are set in the changing history and issues of the period. Often, I thought that Julian is more of a observer of the issues; I would have liked to see more conflict. However, Deabler is very effective in presenting his characters. One feels for them. Thanks to the publisher and Above the Tree for this electronic edition.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Lara

    Lone Stars by Justin Deabler is the story of family in an ever changing America. Julian Warner wrestles with a question his husband, Philip, poses to him after they adopt a baby boy, Pablo. What will he tell their son about the people he came from? As he comforts his son late at night, Julian thinks about his family. The story transports readers to 1960s Texas to Lacy Adams, a young girl who discovers her mother isn’t telling her the truth about her family, and to Aaron Warner, a young man who d Lone Stars by Justin Deabler is the story of family in an ever changing America. Julian Warner wrestles with a question his husband, Philip, poses to him after they adopt a baby boy, Pablo. What will he tell their son about the people he came from? As he comforts his son late at night, Julian thinks about his family. The story transports readers to 1960s Texas to Lacy Adams, a young girl who discovers her mother isn’t telling her the truth about her family, and to Aaron Warner, a young man who dreams of college football and life away from his blue collar family. The story follows Lacy, Aaron and Julian as they live through the events of the 1980s, 90s and the new millennium as American struggles to answer the questions of immigration, sexuality, and the rapidly changing world. Will Julian find the answers he’s looking for? In his debut novel, Justin Deabler weaves a story of family, secrets and the freedom you find in being yourself. From the 1960s and Eisenhower’s immigration border raids, to the 1970s, Lacy and Aaron’s letter correspondence during the Vietnam War to their crumbling marriage and Julian coming to terms with his sexuality and finding love, it is a story of the changing world around us. It is a story about being true to ourselves. Not just in terms of sexuality but as immigrants, women empowerment and discovering that family is more than just the people you come from. Family can be the one you build for yourself. It is a story about life’s struggles as we search for a better life than the one we left behind. It takes a hard look at the events of the last thirty years with brutal honesty and hope. I recommend Lone Stars. Lone Stars is available in hardcover and eBook.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Berry

    Just finished this one, and I really wanted to give it 5 stars, but it just was not all the way there for me. Justin Deabler does an amazing, stellar job in the storytelling with this novel. The characters were just great! I saw the book moving along in my head, which is something that I look for in a novel. I loved the realness of the story. It wasn’t not flowery, it was not rough, it was just right. I felt for all of the characters, especially for Julian. I love multigenerational stories like Just finished this one, and I really wanted to give it 5 stars, but it just was not all the way there for me. Justin Deabler does an amazing, stellar job in the storytelling with this novel. The characters were just great! I saw the book moving along in my head, which is something that I look for in a novel. I loved the realness of the story. It wasn’t not flowery, it was not rough, it was just right. I felt for all of the characters, especially for Julian. I love multigenerational stories like these. What took it down a star for me was the ending, I felt it was rushed, and the final characters in the book, the reader had no way of getting to know them. I think this ending was an afterthought, and did not flow as well as the rest of the book. This is marketed as LGBTQ, which it is, but it is not even a quarter of the story. This is more about Julian and his family. You will not get a lot of the gay scene in this book, this is not that kind of book. If you like a great cast, a well rounded family saga, with a little LGBTQ issues thrown in, then this is your book! Great achievement, but the ending was just too fast, and not packaged really well.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharon May

    Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for gifting me a digital ARC of this book by Justin Deabler - 4.5 stars for a great debut! This story traces Julian Warner's life as well as the generations before him as he becomes a parent and thinks about what legacy he will impart on his child. We see the struggles of each generation - as immigrants hiding their true origins, a promising PhD candidate forced out of her dreams because she was a woman, and a gay teenager desperate for escape from his sm Thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for gifting me a digital ARC of this book by Justin Deabler - 4.5 stars for a great debut! This story traces Julian Warner's life as well as the generations before him as he becomes a parent and thinks about what legacy he will impart on his child. We see the struggles of each generation - as immigrants hiding their true origins, a promising PhD candidate forced out of her dreams because she was a woman, and a gay teenager desperate for escape from his small town. As we see the generations pass, the author imparts the pertinent historical events happening at the same time giving more glimpses into how such events shape us. I really enjoyed this book. Some people may pass it by because of its LGBTQ+ classification, this book is so much more than that. It's a family saga seeped in history and well worth a read. I loved Lacy's character and her desire to do whatever she could to see that her son succeed. It's also a story of regret and grief. A great debut novel - looking forward to more from this author!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Prendergast (lifeandbookswithme)

    3.5 stars! This debut novel tells the story of four generations of a family who are from Texas. Julian is navigating being a first-time father when his partner asks him how he will describe his parents to their child. Julian’s heritage is traced as the reader gets glimpses into his parents’ lives as well as his grandparents. The story touches on important cultural events such as the Vietnam War, immigrant deportation and gay rights. The characters in this novel were great. I loved the fact that yo 3.5 stars! This debut novel tells the story of four generations of a family who are from Texas. Julian is navigating being a first-time father when his partner asks him how he will describe his parents to their child. Julian’s heritage is traced as the reader gets glimpses into his parents’ lives as well as his grandparents. The story touches on important cultural events such as the Vietnam War, immigrant deportation and gay rights. The characters in this novel were great. I loved the fact that you got to see where each one of them came from as the generations were depicted. The settings were atmospheric and the writing style was vivid. At times, I almost felt like I was in the story because of the imagery that was evoked. The wide variety of issues that this novel touches on was also amazing. As it skims through four generations, a lot of time passes and the social issues evolve. I thought that Deabler did a great job of making commentary about said issues with not a lot of time to spend on them due to having to move on in the chronology. I really struggled between a 3.5 and 4 star rating for this and ultimately decided on a 3.5 because I found it a bit slow at parts.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    A week after (rapidly) finishing this book, I continue to think about it. I attribute this to the writer's deep empathy for his characters, and also to the book's vivid sensory descriptions; the scenes unfold as if on a cinema screen. The story tracks multiple lives and generations (with elegant leaps in time and perspective) but is rooted in the dynamics of family; the families we're born into, and the ones we create. There is something very healing in experiencing the arc of the main character A week after (rapidly) finishing this book, I continue to think about it. I attribute this to the writer's deep empathy for his characters, and also to the book's vivid sensory descriptions; the scenes unfold as if on a cinema screen. The story tracks multiple lives and generations (with elegant leaps in time and perspective) but is rooted in the dynamics of family; the families we're born into, and the ones we create. There is something very healing in experiencing the arc of the main character, Julian, who navigates from life as a gay teenager in Texas to becoming a civil rights lawyer in NYC. On a scale larger than personal evolution, the story throws light on America for the last several decades and how it has changed, from the Vietnam War on up to the legalization of gay marriage. I highly recommend this book, and it would be a great book club pick as there's so much rich material to talk about!

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