His rendition of heteroflexibility in Vietnam-era New England has a guilelessness that strains credulity. Boys snuggle, hold hands, confess their homosexual inclinations without shame ... Alongside such wishful uninhibitedness are scenes that verge on parody ... Improbabilities compound and betoken a deeper murkiness in the novel’s vision. Is this the story of a gay man’s coming-of-age? Is it about the rot that many venerable institutions cover up? Is it about the bafflements of love? For Galassi, it’s about all of these, without full commitment to any one. The novel has a halting rhythm, structured as a series of vignettes that sometimes fizzle or introduce dead ends. The prose, much of it flat or clichéd, only underscores the desultory effect ... Galassi is convincing when he depicts the insularity of boarding schools and adolescent bonds. But when he tries to express the mysteries of the heart, or capture the verisimilitude of boys on the brink of manhood, he fails the grade.
A classic coming-of-age novel leavened with gay content, which is handled beautifully. As for Sam, he’s a terrific, empathic character whose life is fascinating, as is this beautifully conceived and written novel.
Emotionally resonant ... Galassi’s talent for crisp and moving storytelling is again on display, elegantly turning on themes of truth, loyalty, and the ways in which his protagonist’s capacity for self-deception override his desire to enjoy an 'unlived life.' This heartful novel packs a punch.
While the novel could have benefited from the elimination of some peripheral characters, Galassi’s understated style and economical prose are well suited to this elegiac story ... A thoughtful exploration of the lingering effects of repressed sexual identity.