was a nice step up to the Coda
series, I'd been a little unimpressed with the previous two, but I enjoyed this one at least as much as the first in the series. This has a lot to do with the fact that I never really liked Zach and Angelo much as a couple, and it helps that Strawberries
focused on a new couple - two minor characters from the previous books. As such it can also be read as a standalone if you fancy it.
The two characters in question are work-a-holic Jonathan Kechter - Zach's ex-boyfriend, and flamboyantly camp Cole Fenton - Jared's friend and occasional casual sex-partner. The two get hitched up together on a date by their friends and things progress from there.
The best thing about Strawberries
was that it addressed a long time peeve of mine, that of placing ridiculous levels of importance on people's jobs. Why is it that when we first meet someone, one of the first questions we ask is 'What do you do for a living?'. and often just 'What do you do?', as if your job was the one sole descriptor for your purpose in life, like a kitchen appliance. And of all the facets of a potential partner's life, their job has one of the least bearings on your life together, in most relationships it is the one area of your partner's life that you will never be involved in. Personalities, likes, dislikes, hobbies, music, food.. these are the things you can share. A job is often just the way you pay for the things that you actually like in life. Some of us are lucky enough to have a job that we enjoy, and that's great, but we still don't need to let one small section of our life define us. And for those of us that, for various reasons, cannot or do not need to work for a living, why do we need to feel guilty? As if it makes us less of a person?
To Jonathan, work is everything. He doesn't have hobbies, he doesn't have time for a home life. All his energy is spent in working hard and climbing his way slowly to the top of the corporate ladder. So of course he asks of Cole 'What do you do?'. Cole detests the question, and evades it skillfully every time. The truth is Cole does a lot things, there's a lot of things Cole enjoys, like cooking for instance, he just doesn't get paid for them, and he never lets them define him as a person. The way to really get to know a person, is not to ask them what they do for a living, but to spend time with them. Unfortunately, Cole has a slight problem with staying put, he can never stay in one city for too long, he's always itching for a change of scene. Between Cole's flightyness and Jonathan's all consuming work, the two struggle to find time for another date. But when they do manage to make time for eachother, they both begin to discover who they really are, and what they really want in life.
I suppose you can tell that I really enjoyed reading Strawberries
? I really think Marie Sexton did a brilliant job with these two characters. And although I won't go as far as to say the book was 'profound', I do think it trod some new untouched ground, and dealt with real issues, and it certainly built real believeable characters. I'm beginning to see that with Sexton's novels, some are a hit, and some are a miss. This was definately a hit.
Both Jonathan and Cole were much more likeable than they ever came across as minor characters in their exs' stories. Cole in particular; if you read the first Coda book and was annoyed by Cole's over-the-top camp flamboyancy, definately don't let that put you off. Sometimes we find that over-the-top attitudes are a cover, a protection for a vulnerable personality. Everyone does this to an extent, and Cole's is quite extreme, but it makes him a very relatable and loveable person once you understand why he is the way he is.
Superb romance, and highly recommended, even if you haven't or don't intend to read the rest of the series. And I also recommend, that perhaps next time you meet someone new, how about trying to avoid the 'what do you do?' question, at least for a little while?See my other reviews of the Coda Books series:
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