“Is there, in the Year 2000, a name for this? What would you call this? Are you some new breed of life partners? Are you lifebuddies? Nonsexual husbands?”
Title: The Cranberry Hush
Author: Ben Monopoli
Why you should read this book: Because it’s a lovely story about love, friendship and moving on.
Summary from Goodreads:
Vince Dandro might be going through the quietest quarter-life crisis of all time. He lives alone, works in a comic book shop, and has a crush on his coworker he can’t seem to act on. Like an old comic book, his life’s colors have started to fade. Everything brightens when Vince’s long-lost friend Griff appears on his doorstep in the middle of a blizzard. They were roommates in college, so close back then that Griff’s girlfriend called them “lifebuddies” — but Vince’s love for Griff had ended the friendship, he thought, forever. They haven’t spoken in years. Why has Griff shown up again? And, more importantly, can Vince handle his return?
Vince and Griff are two twentysomethings struggling to find their places in the world and in each other’s lives. This is a story of friendship and love, both unrequited and requited, and of learning how to fly through the post-college void, which just might hold more than a cranberry hush.
Everyone else was always the third wheel when Griff was around. How could I reduce him to what he was supposed to be? Just a buddy, just a roommate, just an open-mouth chewer of pizza.
What if I couldn’t?
I don’t know what to write about this book without spoiling everything. I don’t want to spoil it because, step by step, it takes you through so many range of emotions that if I reveal something I might ruin the whole experience. It is a simple book, a book about a guy living his live, working in a comic book store, having crushes, and living a very quiet life.
It is a book about the past, the feeling of a void that needs to be filled. A book about love, so much love it breaks your heart slowly. It is above all a book about friendship, the real deal, the one that survives fights, years of being apart and everything life throws at you. I don’t have that kind of friendship and I was really jealous of Vince and Griffin.
“I think it’s weirder to only be able to fall in love with half of the people you meet.”
Vince is bisexual and this has given him quite a few headaches from others through the years. He is sweet but he is a bit of a coward: he prefers to stop doing one thing if he has even the slightest feeling something might ruin it. You can’t do that or you will live your life being scared of everything. There was a time I was like him and that’s what annoyed me the most about Vince, because I knew how ruinous that behavior can be.
Maybe we would hang out in each other’s rooms, sixty-nine for hours while our roommates were away, become life partners, adopt foreign orphans.
He fell in love with Griff at first sight in college and through some weird methods he found out more about him and asked him to be his roommate. Vince was positive Griff was going to fall in love with him even if the entire world (and Griff) told him he was 100% straight. Vince is delusional and that took a lot from him. I felt his pain, I, too, have this bad habit of daydreaming about a lot of things but then real life slaps me in the face.
“I don’t think of Superman as being angsty, though.”
“That’s the problem. Most people don’t. But really he’s pure angst. He has a Fortress of Solitude, you know? What do you think he does there, throw parties? No. He broods.”
Vince is quietly living his life when one day Griff, freshly out of a break up, shows on his doorstep and asks him to stay at his place for a week until he figures out what to do. There’s more to Griff that what he shows Vince and that puts more delusion in our poor guy’s mind. I wanted to scream “Wake up, son, or at least ask so that everybody can go home in peace!”. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in dreams: in dreams things can’t go wrong if we decide they can’t. In dreams every piece fits perfectly into our life’s puzzle.
I had a hard time figuring out Griffin at first. He is a nice guy having no clue about what he wants to do with his life. We’ve all been there (oh hell, I’m still there myself!) but seeking refuge in memories of a perfect past can do so much damage. I love that Griff thought of Vince when he didn’t know where else to go. I think that is what was supposed to happen and I’m happy he did what he did throughout the week he stayed in Vince’s house. This experience allowed them to grow up.
No, I wasn’t stuck in my glory days. I was homesick.
I didn’t start this book hoping for a happy ending in which the main characters change who they are and miraculously they find a way to work things out and live happily ever after. I started this book with my heart open to possibilities. Things could go very wrong or too right. I wanted it to be somewhere in the middle.
I love how the book ended, I smiled so much my face hurt a little. I was surprised by the outcome, it wasn’t exactly how I picture it, but it was so much better. Ben Monopoli writes exquisitely and I love him every day a little bit more. This book isn’t too much like so many books can be. It’s not overwhelming but you will find yourself in turmoil of feeling, even if you don’t relate to the characters. The Cranberry Hush is sweet and real, painful and hopeful, and I loved it.
Do I recommend it? Yes, it is really sweet and I think everybody will love it.