"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance." ~ Bruce Barton
Kelly Phillips, of 'Something Like Lightning' by Jay Bell, is, in essence, struck by lightning. Due to a tragic set of circumstances, Kelly endures years of heartbreak and pain, but instead of wallowing in self-pity, Kelly works his way through his disappointments while learning the lessons life is determined to teach him.
Kelly is smart, handsome, with a great, supportive family, but he wants more. He wants a relationship. Being black and gay is enough of a challenge, but falling in love with his straight best friend is almost unbearable because, after declaring his feelings, Kelly loses him altogether. Then Kelly becomes closer to another classmate, William, who is the nicest guy Kelly has ever known. Even though they fall in love, their outlook on life is vastly different causing arguments between them, and the timing just isn't right. When William falls for Jason, he feels incredibly bad about his feelings, but he's miserable with Kelly. He will inevitably hurt Kelly even more if they don't break up. Kelly is lost after William leaves him, but deep down, he knows it is for the best. Still, it's hard to give up on a dream.
Since Kelly's original life plans are interrupted by an accident, he needs to find another way to make a living. He is offered an opportunity to model for Marcello who is an influential business man and accepts. Modeling is not Kelly's life ambition, but he does enjoy the benefits his success affords. It also brings him into contact with Nathaniel, Marcello's brooding assistant. There's an attraction there, but Kelly is bothered by Nathaniel's condition of no strings attached. That's not what he wants, but Kelly does want to be in Nathaniel's bed, so he throws caution to the wind and accepts his terms. Nathaniel hasn't shared his past, but Kelly is perceptive enough to know that something earth-shattering must have happened to cause Nathaniel's aversion to anything to do with being close to another person. When Nathaniel's fears get the best of him and he leaves Kelly, all he can do is force himself to keep moving forward, regardless. Even though Nathaniel's logic is flawed, Kelly can't make Nathaniel stay with him if he doesn't want to. He can't give up because if he does, all of his struggles, everything he's fought so hard to attain will be in vain and the happiness he seeks will always be an illusive dream.
Jay's grasp of creating emotional atmospheres in his story is phenomenal. His words reach inside of me, invoking emotions, almost before I know I feel them. They sometimes leave me happy and hopeful, and at others, sad and disillusioned along with every other emotion in between. His honest portrayals afford me the opportunity to be inside his characters’ heads so I am better able to understand them. Kelly's transformation is particularly impressive. When Kelly was first introduced in Jay's book 'Something Like Spring' he wasn't that likable. He came across as grouchy, bossy, outspoken, jealous, and holding on to William for dear life, keeping him in a relationship almost against his will; but after hearing his side of the story, not only did I come to like Kelly, but I also came to admire this strong, determined young man who, even though more than once he lost almost everything, but through it all, he never gave up and never gave in. Kelly continued to be true to himself whatever that took. I highly recommend this book to those of you who are 'Something Like...” fans who yearn to learn the truth behind the characters’ actions. They will get a chance to revisit many of the characters like Tim, Ben, and others who have helped make this series as popular and amazing as it is. Thanks, Jay, for your dedication to this series and to us, your fans, who, if they feel like I do, will never want to see it end.