Review - "Nothing Ever Happens" by Sue Brown
A beautiful, harsh and forgiving story
There is a sanctity and favor when God looks at one of His creations and smiles that can only be defined as grace. And then there is a certain eloquence of style when an artist creates something of beauty that can also be considered grace. Sue Brown has created something of grace and beauty here that shines with a quiet painful dignity.
Andrew and his family live in a quiet neighborhood. and lead a quiet life. A scarred man inside and out, Andrew is a photographer, a father, and a man staying in a marriage he never wanted with a woman he loves as a friend to please a religious mother. When the pressure builds too badly, he escapes for a night to find release with a man he will never see again. Then back home to pretend for another little while that life is fine.
Nathan moves his pregnant wife into Andrew's neighborhood looking to settle down, start his career as a teacher, and raise his soon-to-be son among other happy young families. He and Andrew strike an immediate friendship, and while Nathan wonders why Andrew has his own room downstairs, he begins to like Andrew a lot. At least until he finds the gay stroke mag stuck in between Andrew's couch cushions, and assumes the worst.
While they patch up their friendship, can the two men deal with the attraction that grows between them? And when Andrew's wife asks him for a divorce to marry the man she loves, what will happen to both families?
Where lesser writers would wrap this up quickly with both men leaving their wives and walking off into the sunset together, holding hands under a rainbow, Ms. Brown takes the much harder road and has life, in all its' sticky, uncomfortable and messy ways, happen. We see Andrew having to come to terms not only with the present, but with his painful past - how his overbearing and religious mother allowed him to be physically abused in the name of normalcy, how he bowed his head and tried to be the man they wanted, how he struggled and ended up with a pregnant girl friend and a son and a life he never wanted. And we see how his future is uncertain and scary. What is a man to do and who is he to be when he loses what everything he defined himself as?
And Nathan. Where Andrew had fought to be "normal" all his life, Nathan WAS normal. And now that he has fallen for man, what does that mean for him and his wife and his son and his self image? Can he be what he needs to be to be in a relationship with Andrew? Or will his fear be the master of him? Will Nathan take the easier road, the less risky way? Will his flame be dimmed, and allowed to die out?
The message here is that life is rarely simple, cut and dried, or comfortable. All of us brave the trials, the fires, the tears and the bitter harsh realities in which we baptize our pains in order to come out the other side renewed. For, as Ms. Brown shows us so clearly with Andrew and Nathan, the easy road seldom feeds the soul, and the struggle, while painful, allows our spirits to break free and shine.
It may only be through trial that we are rewarded. Lessons learned without cost may not sustain us when rough times come.
Andrew and Nathan certainly learn that grace comes with a cost. And we learn that grace may just be worth the costs.
I found this book to be a lovely, painful, harsh testament to the power of love, redemption and sacrifice. I hope you will too.