Saturday, June 9, 2012

Learning From Isaac by Dev Bentham

Nathan Kohn has been teaching Aquatic Science at St. Genevieve College for 15 years. It’s not a perfect situation, but he's resigned to being a gay man in a straight culture, a Jew among Catholics and single in a world of couples. Until the stunningly attractive Isaac Wolf appears in his classroom. Isaac is a few years older than his fellow students, brilliant, self-composed and Jewish. Wouldn't Nathan's mother be pleased? Except, of course, relationships between faculty and students are forbidden, especially those not sanctioned by the Church. Isaac has his own secrets, which Nathan finds out when he visits the racy new club downtown where boys can be bought in the back room. Behind the beaded curtain, the man on his knees turns out to be Isaac. What happens in the club stays there, right? Except Nathan's mind isn't the only thing Isaac blows, and Nathan can't stop thinking about that night. But what kind of future can there be for a college professor and a rent boy?

Reviewer: TigerLily
It begins and ends with … The first rule of ecology is that small shifts beget big change. Everything is connected.
So True.

Having previously read Moving in Rhythm by Dev Bentham, which I immensely enjoyed, I figured this would be a great read as well. And I did enjoy reading it, although a few things didn’t add up which left me in a state of suspension. The emotions between Nathan and Isaac are strong and you can feel sparks flying between them but they aren’t pulling. I liked the whole idea behind the story, teacher and student falling in love, but not so much of the poor student having to work as a rent boy to make college payments. That in itself … is kind of sad.

 Nathan Kohn is teaching a class on ecological sampling techniques in aquatic science in the Department of Natural Resources at Saint Genevieve’s, a small Catholic college. It's a laid back learning atmosphere where you will find mostly outdoorsy type students in ratty jeans, and flannel shirts. So when Nathan sees Isaac Wolf sitting in his classroom, dressed in tight jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, of course he stands out. (Let’s not forget his profile points to his Jewish heritage. Though it was a bit odd how Nathan was quick to think of what his mother would say if he brought Isaac home. He did dismiss the thought just as fast, though! LOL.)

 All it takes is a single look between Nathan and Isaac: a mere second, and the tension burns. Nathan knows he’s exposed, Isaac sees just how much he wants him. It only gets hotter during a field trip when they both find themselves taking study on zooplankton migration from the lake in a boat alone, together in the wee hours of the early morning. And it’s cold! Well at least its cold around them … the sexual tension growing between them, however, is anything but cold. A side note here: I did like how Nathan held his ground and behaved ethically by not starting up any type of relationship with Isaac while he was his student—even if it did create an intense air of frustration between them.

It isn’t until the term final comes that we are given an insight into what Isaac does for work. He shows up late to class, limping and covered with bruises. Even though Nathan wants to help, he doesn’t. Instead, he lets the situation slide. I wished he would have been more insistent. I felt as if he let the moment go too easily. It’s shortly after that when Nathan's childhood friend shows up for the holidays and takes him to a club for a night out. The friend is promising him a delicious evening—when really he’s buying him a rent boy. Only this rent boy turns out to be Isaac.

The fact that their first time happens in the back of the club where Isaac had been abused kind of ruins it for me. It makes what should be beautiful, almost seedy and wrong. It also creates a huge wall between them, bringing about a whole different kind of tension to surmount even while they can’t deny the attraction that swirls thickly between them.

 It’s after graduation that things finally pick up for Nathan and Isaac. Isaac has quit the job at the club. And Nathan invites Isaac to dinner that night. They can finally give in to the feelings they share and their relationship begins. It doesn't come without a few awkward situations. First being one of the members on the chair at the college, Geoffrey Dunn, who seems bent on getting Nathan's class categorized as more of an optional class than mandatory. There is also the elephant in the room: Isaac has been with a lot of men in his old profession and it keeps coming into play in his new relationship with Nathan. While Nathan is sure he can handle it, Isaac worries it’ll become an issue …

It’s a night of dancing that brings it all to a head. Nathan, having dragged a reluctant Isaac to a dance club, reacts badly at seeing how all the men dancing around them seem to recognize Isaac from the club he used to work at. These men keep making grabs for Isaac, asking him how much. Nathan can't handle it. A fight breaks out and ends with Isaac fleeing and Nathan feeling like a heel. Nothing like a good apology though! But it does bring to light some major decisions that need to be made, especially after a wonder talk with Nathan's mother.

I give this 3.5 stars. It's a sweet story revolving around the struggles one might face when hard choices are placed in front of them and reminds us that a love that can happen anywhere at anytime.

Though personally, the moment with the cucumber could have been left out! LOL!

Publisher: Loose ID


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