The short blurb bit: Dino doesn’t have a problem with being around dead bodies, his family runs a funeral home. In fact, it’s expected that Dino will continue in the family business once he’s done with school. Then July dies. Once upon a time, she was Dino’s best friend … but things changed about the time Dino got himself a boyfriend. A year passed without the two of them speaking and then … July died.
Then July comes back to life again. She’s kind of a cross between a zombie and … herself… and it’s all a bit much. But the two ex-friends embark upon a journey to try to figure out what is going on.
The descriptive bit: Wow! This book! Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favourite authors. If you’ve read any of his other books (We Are The Ants, At THe Edge of the Universe, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza). This book is about friendship and self-discovery and all the ugly, difficult road bumps that crop up on our path. The story also sheds light on the way we categorize each other, how we can be different people when in the company of different friends.
We claim this type of forced categorization provides us the ability to define our place in the world, and that, paradoxically, it’s what’s on the inside of the truly counts. But once we stuff someone into a box, what’s on the inside no longer matters. The boxes that are supposed to help us understand one another ultimately wedge us further apart. Even worse is that we rage against the artificial divisions the boxes create, claim that we are more complex and complicated than how we’re defined by others, and then turn around and stuff the next person we made into one and tape the lid shut.
And then, as if the indignity of life isn’t enough, when a person dies, we cram what’s left of them into one final box for eternity.
– excerpt from The Past And Other Things That Should Stay Buried
Dino is on a journey as this story progresses. He’s trying to figure out who he is. As cliché as we might be tempted to think that is, we all go through it. We struggle with trying to find a way to live with our thoughts, feelings, our contradictions and the people we want to be with. This book makes that journey a little less solitary.
My thoughts bit: One of the things that is so great about Shaun David Hutchinson is that his imagination is a remarkable place. His stories are always original and usually a little weird. I love them. His writing is inclusive without being obvious. He finds a way to represent diverse lifestyles in healthy and challenging ways.
“Love isn’t obvious until you’re in it, “I say.“ It’s not a punch in the face that leaves you reeling. Love is gradual and sneaky. It grows like weeds between the cracks of 100 average moments.” – July
Along with a kick-ass plot about an undead friend, there are some remarkable conversations in this book. There are conversations about the big scary things that some people are threatened by, but they are written gently and honestly. I wish that the whole world could read this book.
And friendship, friendships do change, sometimes they fall apart. Hutchinson always writes honestly about the things that happen to us in our lives.
The warnings bit: mentions of attempted suicide, descriptions of death and dying, loss, discussions about homophobia