With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.
As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.
But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.
Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.
The first scene in Trust the Focus included Justin throwing his graduation gown in the trash. It was a very deliberate and telling gesture and the perfect beginning to launch not only the story, but the trip that Justin and Landry were about to start.
This wasn’t just a ‘coming of age’ story or a ‘friends to lovers’ story. It was also a story of a son’s love and devotion to his father as well as his father’s love and devotion to his son. I loved this story’s concept… a pair of childhood friends taking a road trip after college graduation to spread the ashes at all the meaningful places the father had visited. The memories and the importance of each stop was just as big a part of the story as the love between Justin and Landry.
As for the relationship between Justin and Landry… even before Landry knew Justin’s secret, that love was real. Landry didn’t have it easy growing up. When they met he had no real family and he was picked on by other kids. From the very beginning, the connection between the two of them was amazing…
Now I was the only one who could bring Landry back from the brink. When his nerves sent his mind into a tailspin or his anger lit a fire in his gut, I’d grab his hair and slam our foreheads together, forcing him to use me as his anchor.
Trust the Focus was told entirely from Justin’s POV, but readers got a glimpse of Landry’s musings from his blog entries. If I hadn’t learned to love him just from Justin’s opinion of him, those blog entries were enough to do it on their own. Readers knew from the beginning what Justin’s feelings for Landry were. The blog entries made it obvious how much Landry loved and supported Justin.
There were parts of Trust the Focus that were hard to read. There were tears, but there was just as much laughter. It was an emotionally powerful book that couldn’t help but make you feel and to me those are the best kind. I wanted to hug both Justin and Landry as much as I wanted to scream at Justin’s mother. I wanted to praise Landry’s parents for being there for him when no one else seemed to want to give him a chance and I wanted to let Justin and Landry’s true friends know that they were doing it right.
Every once in a while you pick up a book that has an impact. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. Trust the Focus falls on the very good side of that scale. It’s one of those books that will stick with you for a while for a lot of reasons. Since it’s part of the In Focus series, I’m kind of hoping that this isn’t the last that we see of Landry and Justin. Since Focus on Me features two different characters I’m not sure that’s going to happen, but that’s okay. I think it’s just the mom in me wanting to make sure they’re still okay… 😉