Book Reviews

Xylophone by K.Z. Snow at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 08-January-2013

Book Blurb

Daren Boothe's most significant secret centers on an unlikely object: a xylophone. That secret led him to develop his professional alter-ego, a sensual, androgynous dancer. When Dare begins his second (and considerably more wholesome) job playing clarinet in a polka band, he meets a young man who takes his grandmother out dancing. But Dare knows the man has his own secret.

Jonah Day immediately recognizes the clarinetist. Three years earlier they crossed paths in a therapist's office, but they both abandoned that route to mental health. Neither was ready then to open up about the psychological traumas that haunted them.

In an attempt to heal their wounds, Dare and Jonah turn to each other. Understanding and empathy come instantly, accompanied by ambivalence about their growing attraction. But the repercussions of victimization are many. Soon, the very experiences Dare and Jonah share threaten to drive them apart.

Book Review

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” –T. S. Eliot

Healing after being molested as a child is a long and painful process. The victim has to reclaim themselves; they have to live in the light without fear, rather than being shrouded in darkness. They have to journey back to the person they were when it happened and realize that it was not their fault and not their shame. Daren and Jonah of 'Xylophone' by K.Z. Snow, are both victims of sexual abuse as children; they chose different paths of coping with it, but neither have completely faced it, much less begun the healing process. When they meet, they see that they have been presented with a one in a lifetime opportunity to work through the horrors of that dark time in their lives with someone who will truly understand.

Dare and Jonah are extraordinary young men. They've tried to their to put their sordid past behind them and to cope with the present at varying degrees of success. Dare develops an extraordinary way of trying to reclaim his sexuality while working in a club. He creates an alter ego which is neither man nor woman, but both. When he takes a second job in a country band, the contrast of his two jobs provides and interesting contrast. He is so careful, because he really enjoys the music and different atmosphere, but fears rejection. The men in the band prove to be much more accepting than he even dreamed they would be. During his first concert with them, he runs into Jonah whom he doesn't remember, but is immediately attracted to. Jonah remembers him though from a chance encounter at their mutual therapist's office.

Jonah acted out his guilt by being promiscuous and becoming an alcoholic, but he reached a point where this was not what he wanted. After rehab, Jonah kept his head down and went to live with his grandmother. Fortunately, she is very open-minded and just wanted him to be happy. All this time, the guilt and pain festered in his soul with no way of being eased. The more time that goes by, the more the anger and guilt bothers him. When he sees Dare performing, he sees the opportunity to share their shadowy past by talking with Dare about it; this will hopefully help both of them. “The brief exchange seemed too much like something he’d imagined—an assertion of innocence to a kindred spirit, a fellow sufferer whose understanding was implicit.” They pour out their souls to each other, sometime in trickles and others in torrents; Knowing they are with someone who knows how they feel with explaining it was very freeing. Jonah and Dare are able to lance the wounds of their guilt enough to start to believe in themselves again, and the compassion they feel toward each other grows into something much more poignant and beautiful. By supporting each other, Jonah and Dare become brave enough to realize that they will do whatever they need to to rid themselves of the terrible guilt they felt and make their lives the best they can be.

'Xylophone' is an honest, moving look at the devastation which child molestation can bring, robbing the children of their souls, twisting their thinking into knots so big that they turn the responsibility onto themselves instead of the molesters. It isn't an easy topic to broach, but K.Z. does it with her exquisite style of mixing compassion with reality. What makes this book so touching is the fact that, even though there are explanations of the techniques predators use on children, and we suffer through the awful memories this caused Jonah and Dare, we are also able to see the blessing of healing they are able to bestow on each other. Showing the positive side of this subject is what makes the story unique and as poignant as they come. I'd refer this book to everyone who believes that even under the worst of circumstances, there is hope. Thank you, K.Z., for the touching story.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 162 pages/37615 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 12-December-2012
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link