Cam is living in Los Angeles and falling apart after the love of his life has died. Kai's ghost won't leave Cam alone; his spectral visits wild, tender, unexpected, and explosive. When Cam returns to his hometown of Houston, he crashes back into the orbit of his former best friend, TJ, and TJ's family bakery. TJ's not sure how to navigate this changed Cam, impenetrably cool and self-destructing, or their charged estrangement. Can they find a way past all that has been said—and left unsaid—to save each other?
Masterful ... What makes Washington’s writing about family so refreshing and complex is how he shows the ways people attempt to demonstrate the emotions they otherwise have trouble expressing to the ones they hold dear ... Family Meal juggles a lot...but Washington lays it all out with the control and artistry of a ballet choreographer. Each story line gives the other strength.
A tornado of feelings, from guilt and fury to patience and empathy. It picks at the scabs of humanity’s failures with eyes wide open while simultaneously showing us how to be humble, how to be honest and how to love ... For anyone who’s read Washington’s multiple-award-winning first novel, Memorial, you know he has a knack for measured storytelling that builds momentum and gradually fills in holes before culminating in a finale that washes over you like a giant torrent of meaning and consequences that leave you gasping for air ... Washington’s other gift is creating viscerally vulnerable characters and allowing their refreshingly open conversations to flow, showing just how hard — but ultimately rewarding — facing difficult issues head-on can be ... Wise.
The broken queer men of color at the center of Bryan Washington’s second novel, Family Meal, are not mired in clichéd struggles of identity, representation or political victimhood. They are written as neither symbols nor archetypes but as an achingly and beautifully etched ensemble of young Americans learning to navigate a more universal and human struggle: grief ... Washington is equally adept at capturing the moods and sexiness of the city’s threatened queer spaces in writing that moves with a brisk, musical clip ... Washington is a generous and gentle writer, with a profound capacity to face the cruelty and pain of contemporary American life while simultaneously offering his characters — and readers – an expansive space for self-forgiveness, hope and nourishment..