Author: Michael Ryan Webb
Published: 19 Feb 2018
Genre: Contemporary / LGBT+
There are exactly two things that Rafael Torres has always wanted out of life. The first is to see the Golden Gate Bridge in person and experience the sight that inspired his late mother to become a brilliant architect. The second is for his best friend, Henry Wyatt, to finally reciprocate the love that Rafael has held for him for over a decade. For a moment, it seems as if Rafael might get everything he’s hoped for when Henry joins him on a trip to finally visit the Golden Gate Bridge. But all is not as it seems, and Rafael will be forced to confront his complicated history with Henry while learning that in the end, life is never exactly as we want it to be, and we all die trying to get it right.
*ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*
We All Die Trying to Get it Right seems to be a very light hearted, quick and easy read. The characters are likeable, funny and somewhat relatable.
The story of Rafael and Henry is told in alternating chapters between past and present, which could at times make it a little difficult to keep track of what happened when. However, I think that this way of approaching their story was the right one, as it made for a very dynamic structure that allowed us to know things when we should, not when we wanted.
The relationship between the main characters started out as a beautiful friendship, but Raf found himself developing romantic feelings for Henry, who had ended up becoming a brother to him for reasons outside of their control. This made me a bit dubious of what was going on inside Raf’s mind (could he be confusing brotherhood with romantic attraction?) Considering they were pretty much brothers, I couldn’t help but feel their relationship was kinda incestuous, which made me a bit apprehensive.
Throughout the first half of the book, Raf and Henry kept either being playful with each other or having fights and arguments on end. This felt very repetitive, as neither character was honest about what was going on and why they were really upset. It was simultaneously too ideal and too messy. As Rafael later put it, “I hate how complicated our dynamic has become.” and I couldn’t agree more.
This cycle of will they / won’t they and their flirtatious dynamic made me feel like I already knew how the story would end (a happily ever after with birds and butterflies after so much pent up emotion and pining), thus making me not feel like picking it up again.
And YET, Michael Ryan Webb managed to surprise me with a hell of a plot twist! Turns out I did not know where this cute little story was headed…
The second half of the book was, in my opinion, much more interesting and captivating. It had more depth, felt more real and touching. In terms of Rafael and Henry’s relationship and conflict, and without giving away too much, the hospital scene was the one I found to convey more emotion and truth. It was a nice way to finally have them speak their minds and be open about what had been going on all that time.
The ending itself was something that made me think. There was a portion of the book where I was trying to understand how an own voices story about a gay relationship could be headed the same way most of them do, and which is something the LGBT community tries so hard to fight. Once again, Webb turned the story around and made it work in an unexpected way. I found this ending to be better than the sappy ‘happily ever after’ I had been expecting before.
Furthermore, I’d like to add that the representation in this book is aplenty! The main character is a gay latino man whose leg was amputated due to cancer. I know I can’t vouch for their authenticity, and I admit I was a bit worried about the cancer plotline being brushed off to focus on the romance, and the implication that he didn’t feel ‘whole’ without his leg, but overall I think it was all nicely handled.
Finally, I can’t ignore the amount of typos and missing words throughout the novel (not enough to ruin the experience of reading it but enough for me to notice) and I would’ve liked for there to be a bit more foreshadowing regarding *SPOILERS* Raf’s father’s propensity to having a heart attack. Other than that, I can say that I really enjoyed reading this story and only wished the first part had been a little more developed.
“But love doesn’t subscribe to the laws of logic.”
“Nobody’s born with a broken heart, Mijo. You don’t have to die with one either. Go out and find what makes you human again.”
“But this time, I finally understand that as close as we may get, he and I are destined to forever exist somewhere between the dreaming and the coming true.”