Full Circle
Michael Thomas Ford
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Buy *Full Circle* by Michael Thomas Ford online

Full Circle
Michael Thomas Ford
352 pages
August 2007
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Ned Brummel has always had an affinity for history. After all, he lived through some of the most tumultuous periods in America's past the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the rise of the '70s gay liberation movement, and of course, the scourge of AIDS.

At best, Ned has spent years trying to erase his tarnished memories, and those that remain are faded possibly beyond recognition. The past, however, has apparently decided not to stay buried. An urgent telephone call from Jack, Ned's best friend, opens a door that Ned thought to be long shut and locked.

Ned hasn't seen Jack in years. They parted hurriedly in New York when Ned confessed his love for him, the adoration shaped by an angel's message, a dream of Jack showing him "dying from love." Now Jack is begging him to come to Chicago to see their best friend, Andy, who is dying.

Ned and Jack grew up in suburban 1950's Philadelphia, a time when the broader world knew little about homosexuality. Realizing that he and Jack were both gay was only tempered by the fact that they hadn't a clue how to act upon their feelings. The boys developed a powerful and mysterious bond, and at fifteen they fell in love.

Ned ends up caught between his affection for Jack and a society that gives him no direction. Both feel as though they have woken up and found almost everyone else gone, having no idea how to find their way on their own. They muddled through with the sex as best they could, "just two boys who loved one another."

It is at college in 1969 when the young, handsome farm boy Andy Kowalski casts a seductive spell over the boys, particularly Ned. Only through Andy can Ned begin to "crack from the inside out," sloughing off the old ways of thinking and being. Although he's committed to Jack, Andy is the man who Ned wants - and Ned is all too willing to enter into the role as provider of sexual favors.

Author Michael Thomas Ford charts a formidable course as he skillfully integrates this fated trio with the convergence of world events, their lives shattered by the conflict in Vietnam, the Seventies gay liberation movement, and the AIDS epidemic of the eighties.

Covering almost fifty years of American life, the author presents the friendship of these three men from a uniquely gay perspective, detailing all the confusion, betrayal, anger and finally acceptance of a world in which a group of people are fighting to fit in.

Full Circle is undoubtedly a novel of history and memory, where remembrances are held like "a living scrapbook" and where Ned especially wanders through life touching and seeing. The author's prose is always perceptive, profoundly compassionate and nonjudgmental as he focuses on Ned, Jack and Andy's individual struggles for connection and also for sexual liberation as they turn from boys into men.

Although these three may have walked the same road together for many years, faced difficult choices, encountered crossroads, and traveled in different directions, friendship, love, and the unpredictable prize of forgiveness will always bind them inimitably together as one.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Michael Leonard, 2006

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