Thursday, June 3, 2010

M/M Review: Henry and Jim by J.M. Snyder

A bittersweet short story about a lifetime love affair. Henry and Jim have spent a life in love, from the very first date arranged by Henry's sister, through the rocky times they worked to make ends meet, and into their twilight years.

Old men now, Henry reminisces about the love they've shared as he learns to cope with Jim's fading memory and his own fear of being forgotten by the only man he's ever loved.
This is more a post than a review because well... this book touched me on a personal level and it definitely affects the way I view this story. I began reading Henry and Jim by J.M. Snyder and was sobbing by the second paragraph. I had to stop reading before I could continue.

It's a beautiful short story about an elderly couple, Jim who is exhibiting Alzheimer-like symptoms, and his partner Henry who is the caregiver. Through Henry's point of view, we experience a morning in their present lives, Henry's anxieties about Jim's memory loss and his fear of being forgotten. Through flashbacks, Snyder highlights Henry and Jim's first meeting, part of their life struggles, and some very happy moments. It ends on a high note and it's a beautiful and touching story.

But for me... well... I couldn't help but think of my own parents. My mom suffers from these symptoms and my dad is the caregiver. They had a beautiful love story and first meeting. They saw each other once, wrote love letters, met once more and then married -- they saw each other twice before making that commitment. They have been married and devoted to each other for over 50 years. And I mean lovingly! As kids and even as adults, my brothers and I would begin with the "Aww mom... dad, stop!" and would end by looking at each other and doing the eye roll.

The scenes in this little story... Henry's anxiety for Jim; his fear that Jim would get hurt if he were left alone by the stove; his fear that Jim would forget his name, their love and the details of their lives, all of that was so REAL to me. I've seen that fear in my father, and my brothers and I have experienced it too.

I sobbed throughout much of this story for the loss, and at the same time thought how lucky they were to have found and experienced that love -- the fictional Henry and Jim, the real Henry and Jims out there, and my parents (my brothers and I too). And as tough as it is, I couldn't help thinking how lucky we are to be able to experience closure together -- there are so many Henry and Jims out there who are not so lucky.

Thank you J.M. Snyder for writing this story and for reminding me of the love that came first.

Genre: Contemporary Gay Literature
Series: None
Grade: A

Visit J.M. Snyder here. Read excerpt here.

Anezthezea's 2010 M/M Romance Challenge

ETA: Thank you Mariana! This story is being highlighted for the real life struggle of Clay and Harold vs. Sonoma County in CA

10 comments:

  1. Hils - How lucky for you to have an example like that as parents. How lucky for your parents to have each other. And how heartbreaking it is how this disease devastates.

    Henry and Jim is THE loveliest love story I've ever read, also the most heartbreaking.

    This story is being highlighted for the real life struggle of Clay and Harold vs. Sonoma County in CA: http://www.bilerico.com/2010/04/sonoma_county_ca_separates_elderly_gay_couple_and.php

    My best wishes to you and your family.

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  2. Sounds like a great book, Hilcia. I'm happy that you found a book that touched you so much... My heart really goes to you and your family... I cannot imagine being in the caregiver position T_T

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  3. Mariana you're right, we're very lucky! This story really was just so lovely... it reminded me of all that love, not just the loss.

    Thanks for the link, BTW! I'll put it at the bottom of my post. (Meant to do that. :D)

    Nath, it is an excellent book! And yes it touched me, and it's not often we find a book or story that reaches us that way. Thank you for your hearfelt wishes.

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  4. I heard about this story when the Clay and Harold issue was brought to my attention. It sounds like it's a wonderfully touching book. I'm looking forward to reading it. :)

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  5. I love this review!!! I mean for me my parents are the same way, always been strong in love and still are!! I wish everyone could find such a love, its very precious!

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  6. Tracy, this is a great little story. I hope you enjoy Henry & Jim as much as I did.:)

    LoR, yes... they've been lucky and it's great to be reminded of that.

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  7. Your parents sound amazing! And this story sounds lovely, but I think it's a book for me to read when I'm in a happy place...

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  8. Aww, Hils. I'm so glad to hear how you connected with this book and how it moved you in such a positive, albeit maybe poignant way. I love when a book can do that to me. xo

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  9. I sounds like a wonderful story, and I so feel you when you talk about your parents.

    My parents have been married 62 years, and it amazes me when I see how patient my dad is with my mom.

    For me, though, because it also hits so close to home, I don't think I could read it at the present time.

    Big hugs, Hilcia.

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  10. Orannia, this was such a great little story! I think it will affect different people different ways... I do hope you read it sometime.

    Christine, yes, exactly! We read so many books, yet that deep connection is rare. This little story moved me, it was beautiful and it will stay with me for a long time. Just what books are supposed to do. :)

    Renee, bigs hugs to you! That patience and love is amazing...

    I rarely blog about my family or things really personal, so you know this book had to affect me in order for me to write this very personal post. Your reluctance to read it ATM is more than understandable. I'm glad I did, but as you can see it was not easy. This read will stay with me for a long time -- I think becaue in the end, it reminded me of the joy and love that came before & is still there.

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