Book Review: Vintage
I really love the set up of this story! It has many classic coming-of-age tropes, but it revisits them with a queer ghost story twist. Our narrator is a shy, quiet teen who works at a vintage clothing store and has yet to experience a romantic relationship. One night while walking home he chances upon the ghost of a young man, and a supernatural bond is formed. He’s falling in love, but the ghost may have more sinister motivations…
SUMMARY: In a small New Jersey town a lonely boy walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With a cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.
Berman does an excellent job capturing the naive awkwardness of young love/lust, and the turmoil of emotions that one experiences in their teenage years. So many moments in the story had me flashing back to my own high school years (especially those mentions of Hot Topic haha), and the characters are very realistic and believable. The narrator and most of the supporting cast are written with a great sense of empathy and sensitivity to their hopes and fears.
Though it’s a love story of boy-meets-ghost, I honestly wasn’t expecting many scares. While it’s true that much of story focuses on the drama, there are some parts that are quite dark and, to my pleasant surprise, quite terrifying. When the relationship between the narrator and the ghost takes an unexpected turn, I was constantly on edge, skin crawling, for the next moment the ghost would pop up and what would happen next. And that scene with the baby doll and the bounding thing in the cemetery? Creepy stuff.
My only complaint is that the story meanders begins to meander in the middle. I didn’t necessarily mind all of the subplots, but the book loses some momentum and I kept wanting to get back to the main story line. Thankfully it returns at the end for a climax that is tense and emotionally charged.
Vintage has great characters, a unique plot, and an underlying creepiness that rears its head in several scenes. I really enjoy Berman’s writing style. It is easy to fall into the story and the head of the narrator. Despite some tangents, the overall story is compelling and deeply moving. Recommended for fans of ghost stories, coming of age, and queer representation! Thanks to author @bermanlethe for sending me a copy!
If you want to learn more about Steve Berman and his work then check out his website (http://www.steveberman.com/) or follow him on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/bermanlethe/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/thesteveberman).