cover image Halfway Home

Halfway Home

Paul Monette. Crown Publishers, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-58329-6

This affecting, timely story of reconciliation, forgiveness and love begins as Tom Shaheen, weakened by symptoms of AIDS, retreats to an isolated oceanfront mansion in California. An unexpected visit from his brother, Brian, sparks Tom's hatred--as a boy, athletic, well-loved Brian was Tom's antithesis and tormentor. Brian leaves but soon returns with his family, their lives threatened by his involvement in construction-business racketeering. Tom tries to forgive him and together they face uncertain futures. Meanwhile, Tom's tentative acknowledgment of love for his quiet, reliable landlord, Gray, leads to a bittersweet bond which both agree is better late than never. There are some false notes here: Tom's concealed incestuous desires are fueled by unlikely gestures of affection from Brian; Brian's past catches up with him in a climactic scene that may or may not be black comedy; Tom's triumphant returns to the stage as controversial drag queen Miss Jesus are hollow attempts to invoke the censorship issue. Still, Monette ( Borrowed Time ; Afterlife ) adeptly portrays fear and hope, and his memorable, multifaceted characters transcend the boundaries suggested by their sexual orientations. (Apr.)