Something Like Autumn

Desert Isle Keeper

Something Like Autumn

Jay Bell

Bell’s Something Like series sticks to a reader’s mind and pops up unexpectedly at the oddest moments. It’s the same story told and retold, almost as if Bell were trying to grasp the core of what happens, but knows that perception changes everything.

Something Like Summer shows the life-changing events when Ben meets Tim, told from Ben’s point of view; Something Like Winter retells the tale from Tim’s viewpoint. Autumn digs a little deeper by fleshing out Jace, once Ben’s partner, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s the most sympathetic of the people involved.

Before getting in too deeply, readers should know that these books stand alone well and are perfect to laugh and cry over. They are audience-participation novels to the fullest. Summer was a two-hanky book, Winter a one-hanky tale, but Autumn tops them all as a multi-box book. Read it on public transportation at your peril.

Autumn opens as a teenage Jace, lonely and depressed, throws himself off a bridge into the river in a suicide attempt. Fortunately, he’s rescued by Bernie Hudson who owns the town’s gas station and whose son had committed suicide. Bernie takes Jace under his wing and gives him an after-school job at the station which has a small convenience store.

One night Jace is held up by a guy with mismatched eyes wearing a gorilla mask. As Jace calms the young man down, he recognizes in Victor another lonely, stray soul. They become friends of a sort since Victor is one of those will-o-wisps who alternately lives outdoors or camps out with friends. He’s charismatic enough that everyone likes him and wants to be close to him. Yet he ends up breaking everyone’s heart.

What Jace learns from his time with Victor is the value of love and friendship. Both, Jace finds, are precious and are commodities that must be held tightly because they are often fleeting. Victor also teaches him that it is more important to love than be loved, even though all things considered it’s best to be both.

The latter half of the book is where the story dovetails with the Summer and Winter plots. It was at this point I realized what the ending was going to be, and for the life of me, I fought it, telling myself that Bell would recant and change the ending for this book even though I knew he wouldn’t.

Now I won’t give spoilers although I realize someone who wants to know what I’m talking about and hasn’t read either Summer or Winter will be able to find out all the details somewhere online. Suffice it to say, the raw story stays the same in Autumn.

I was sympathetic and felt for Ben, didn’t care for Tim at all (even though I understood why he came to be the person he was), but absolutely loved Jace in all three books. Jace is heroic in the classical sense. He does something so awesome that I had to stop and put the book down to get my mind around it. I know very few people who would do what he did. Even as I think about his actions toward Ben and Tim (as well as the ending of the book), I tear up. And this is weeks after reading the book.

Bell’s writing has a life of its own. The plot and characters live in the mind like a living memory of what actually happened, not like the memory of something read. It’s as if I could call Jace and ask him questions about his life with Victor and Ben, and we could discuss it as friends.

To say that I would happily read anything Bell writes is putting it mildly. Bell is one of those writers who have enriched my life and made me think more deeply about life and love..