In the American Dreamer series, Herrera has crafted three strong romances that engage deeply with political and social issues without losing their sexiness and humor. In American Love Story the failure of white LGBTQ allies to stand up for Black and marginalized people is front and center. Herrera sets Easton and Patrice’s reunion against the high-conflict backdrop of a spree of racially motivated traffic stops by local cops which only intensifies and highlights the poor communication behind the hot/cold dynamics of their tentative relationship.
Both of them are unbalanced as they try to negotiate just what they are to each other when Patrice moves into town permanently. Their conflicted flirtation is nearly snuffed out when Easton’s boss bars him from speaking out and Patrice’s anti-racism activism brings him unwanted attention at work. Their already mismatched life experiences, one a Black refugee from Haiti, the other the black sheep of a wealthy but dysfunctional white family, put lots of pressure on them to understand each other’s soft spots. Easton himself has to come to terms with his hesitancy to intervene until Patrice is subjected to a dangerous encounter, while Patrice has to overcome his reticence to express his feelings and his own assumptions that he will not be supported. While Herrera continues to rely on showstopping grand gestures to reunite parted lovers, their epilogue shows how they have worked together to build up their relationship and the concrete steps they have taken to improve their communication.
The only complaint I had about my experience with American Love Story was not with the book itself but with the narration of the audio version I listened to. While I thought Sean Crisden had a fantastically deep and sonorous voice for Patrice, his choice to give Easton a high, almost cajoling tone of voice was jarring, especially when he is supposed to be a suave and gifted prosecutor.
I am looking forward to reading more books from Herrera especially for the deep sense of community she has created in the novels and the fascinating, complicated secondary characters that populate them. I deeply enjoyed how Herrera continued to develop a sweet secondary romance between Nesto’s young employees, Yin and Ari, that first blossomed in the American Dreamer and the roles Nesto, Milo, Tom and Patrice’s mothers play in the lives of their queer sons. American Love Story is worth swooning over as is Herrera’s ability to tackle such heavy subjects with such responsibility and grace. I can’t wait till JuanPa & Pris’s book!
Content Warnings: homophobia, racism, racially motivated traffic stops
Ana borrowed this audiobook from her library.