SIDECAR by Amy Lane
Sidecar by Amy Lane
Reviewed by Cassie
It’s 1987, and Casey’s parents have kicked him out of their house for being gay. After two terrible months of surviving and not much more, Casey’s about ready to give up. Then a motorcycle roars up, carrying a big, mustached guy who offers to give him food and a place to stay for the night. Trusting strangers has gotten Casey nothing but misery, but for some reason he decides to trust Josiah Daniels.
Josiah Daniels has a habit of taking in strays and helping people. Normally he helps the person and moves on, but something’s different with Casey. He agrees to let the kid stay, and plans to help Casey become a happy and productive adult. He doesn’t expect things to change between them so drastically when Casey accepts his help.
Can Casey and Joe figure out how to navigate a life together, from awkward adolescence to an adult relationship that’s richer and fuller?
Sidecar tells the story of a relationship that changes over the years, from friendship and caring to deep love. Joe and Casey’s story is slow-paced and sweet, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Simply put, Sidecar is a lovely book. Josiah and Casey are easy characters to fall in love with. Casey starts out as a kid who doesn’t deserve what life has thrown at him. Over two months of pain and loneliness, he’s developed a hard, cynical shell to protect the scared kid inside. I loved watching him come out of the shell, blossom under Joe’s care. He makes mistakes as he grows up, but it doesn’t take him long to figure out what he truly wants—Joe. The only problem is getting Joe to see him as something other than a kid.
Joe is also a great character. He looks like a tough biker dude, big, strong, and Harley-riding, but inside he’s caring and gentle. He’s a nurse, was raised Quaker, and always tries to help people. When he picks Casey up one frigid evening, his plan is to get the kid cleaned up and turn him over to social services, but Casey has other ideas. Together, they build a life, Joe working and fixing up his wreck of a house, and Casey going to school. Things are good, but Casey has stronger feelings for Joe than just gratitude, and Joe doesn’t know how to handle that as Casey gets older.
One of the great things about Sidecar is the way the relationship between Joe and Casey changes and develops over the years. Joe is adamant about Casey being a kid while he’s underage, something I appreciated. No matter what Casey does, Joe doesn’t budge. He continues to care for Casey as a friend and a young man who still needs protection and time to grow. They both have other relationships, which is realistic and necessary for Casey’s growth into an adult who knows how to love. The conflicts they face are realistic, too– social workers, the specter of AIDS, the confusion they both feel over their feelings for each other. There are no huge, action-packed moments in Sidecar, no scary villains, no melodrama; just a sweet, slow, deeply romantic tale about two men whose love becomes deeper and more true the longer they’re together. By the time I finished Sidecar, I had no doubt Casey and Joe would have their happily ever after, and I didn’t regret the long journey they took to get there. Sidecar is nothing more or less than a gentle, believable romance, but sometimes that’s more than enough.