“This house was everything we knew. It’s where we kept our love and every single memory of me and you...everything that's left is telling us the worst of it is through. Home has never felt so right, there's nothing in the way. There's nothing in between us...If we hold on to each other, we'll be better than before. And brick by brick, we'll get back to yesterday.” ~ Train (Brick by Brick)
You never forget your first love, the one who caused the first flutterings of desire in your heart; there's no way of recapturing the experience with anyone else. For Zach and Parley, of 'Brick by Brick' by Cate Ashwood and L.J. LaBarthe, this is especially true. Zach and Parley are fortunate enough to find each other, become friends, and fall in love at a young age. They are impetuous enough to think that running away from home, to be on their own, would be an exciting adventure. Their road trip costs them dearly when they are cruelly ripped apart, not to see each other again for many years. The one thing no one can take away from them is their endearing love for each other and the hope that they will be reunited some day.
Zach has searched for Parley for years, feeling like half a person without him. He buys and restores their “little peace of heaven”, the house where they spent their last two days together. During this project, Zach discovers how much he enjoys working with wood and eventually starts his own business. Even when the house is finished, Zach just doesn't feel right living there without Parly; it is their house. Zach keeps hoping that he will find Parley and they can be together, as they should have in the first place. Like the quote from the movie 'Field of Dreams', when Ray hears a voice while he is walking through the cornfield: “If you build it, he will come.” By restoring the house, Zach creates the opportunity for them to be reunited and have their second chance. When his plan is successful and Parley is standing at his front door, Zach can hardly believe it, but welcomes him and his family back into his life with open arms.
Parley has been through a lot, particularly at the conversion camp where he's tortured in order to “get the gay out of him”. He finally lies to get out of that hell hole, but he's not converted. The effects of his torture follow Parley, haunting his dreams, causing flashbacks and other PTSD symptoms no one should ever have to suffer through. Fortunately Parley finds a friend, Veronica, who helps him heal. Even though Parley, his sister, Veronica, and her two adopted children are his family now, they all know that Parley and Zach belong together. Parley just can't find the words to tell Zach how he feels, so, as a family, they help Parley tell Zach how much Parley still loves and wants to be with him. Veronica trusts that Zach will give Parley the love and care he needs and her trust is not misplaced. Parley doesn't lose his kindred by being with him; Zach simply becomes part of their extended family unit.
At times this was a difficult book to read and I shed more than a few tears, simply from the needlessness of the trauma the guys, particularly Parley, endured. Sixteen years is an ungodly amount of time to be separated, but they do find each other again. I was surprised that Zach and Parley had sex so quickly, especially after what they had gone through. I'd think that Parley would need a lot more time to adjust; to heal, but perhaps the strength of their love and desire to be together overrode all of the negativity and left room for them to grow even closer together. If you're interested in conversion therapy, religious zealots, forgiveness, reunions, soul mates, and unconditional love, you may like this book. Thanks, Cate and L.J., for a story which made me think and for giving Zach and Parley their happy ending.