Thursday, February 2, 2012

Simple Treasures by Alan Chin

Reviewer: Carey Parrish
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Having read all of Alan Chin's books, I can honestly say that Simple Treasures is perhaps my favorite. Alan Chin always tells a story with a unique perspective, usually gleaned from a personal reference, and his characters are never the norm. Rather they are fully dimensional individuals who function within their stories as if it's not a narrative but a reality within a book that one is reading.

With Simple Treasures, Mr. Chin takes us on a catharsis of sorts, introducing us to Simple, a Shoshone Indian who has just been released from an institution. Simple goes to work for a hard edged old man named Emmett, who's dying from cancer after a lifetime of drinking and rough living. Simple's job is to care for Emmett in his final days. Only Simple finds that Emmett's world is shared by a grandson named Jude. Jude is a gay young man who sloughs around in Goth attire and generally doesn't have a lot to do with his grandfather, and the sentiment is not one sided either.

As Simple gets to know Emmett and Jude, he finds his feelings for both of them begin to evolve in ways he didn't think possible. While he plans to help Emmett set his spirit free through an ancient Indian ritual he also cannot deny that he and Jude are growing closer, physically as well as emotionally. As Simple strives to give both of his companions the closure and the freedom they each crave, he learns to give himself the same latitude.

Simple Treasures was a delight to read and the message it imparts does not end along with the book. As with Alan's other works, this one has a lesson that will remain with its readers long after the story is told. Well done.

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