Monday, July 20, 2015

Focus on Me (In Focus #2) by Megan Erickson Review

Hey Readers, Ethan here on this Monday morning to bring you yet another review. This one is the sequel to a book I reviewed back in May that I absolutely loved. I'm so excited to share my thoughts on this one with you guys in anticipation of its' release day tomorrow. On the chopping block today? Focus on Me by Megan Erickson. Here's a bit about the novel and Megan before we get to my thoughts:

Colin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option…


About the Author

Megan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she's not tapping away on her laptop, she's probably listening to the characters in her head who won't stop talking.

Find Megan Erickson

My Thoughts:

You guys may remember back in May when I reviewed my first ever Megan Erickson read, Trust the Focus where I spoke about how touching the story was and how it really changed me as both a person and a reader. I thoroughly enjoyed that first installment in the series and really didn't know how the rest would work for me. Trust the Focus was the perfect mix of everything I was looking for in a story of this genre, could Erickson strike gold twice? Yes. Yes she could.

Focus on Me is... entirely different than Trust the Focus. In fact, the stories are so different in terms of plot, characters, and content, it's almost hard to compare the two side by side. The only thing they truly have in common is that their the same series and that both have m/m content. Aside from that, it's almost as though you're viewing two sides of a coin on this one. Two sides of an awesome coin, at that.

Whereas Trust the Focus was more 'surface level' (not in any sort of bad way whatsoever), Focus on Me is such a deep story, I don't know how they found oxygen down there. Seriously. 

The first thing that really makes Focus on Me stand out in the crowd is the fact that it's the very first LGBT novel I have ever read that doesn't involve the characters 'coming out'. In this story, we see two homosexual males who are already 'out in the open' about their sexuality. It was a refreshing twist to the genre. As a reader who himself isn't a member of the community, it's really something different for me to read in the first place. While I haven't read many novels in this genre, each of them has been a 'coming out' story. Focus on Me not falling into that category makes this novel one that will always stand out for me. Getting past that initial 'coming out' and seeing the hardships that those in the community continue to face after that was really interesting. As another reader pointed out, it's nice to know that 'they have other problems too'. 

Now that being said, just because it wasn't a coming out story, doesn't mean it didn't have its' share of depth and dramatics. As I mentioned before, this story is deep. Covering topics such as depression, mental illness, insecurity, doubts, failure, and so many more. This one isn't for the faint of heart. It'll grip you close on page one and won't let you go until the very end. Though at that point, it may be you that's holding on. At this point I'm not entirely sure that Megan Erickson wasn't a psychologist in a former life because she knocked the new adult psyche out of the park in this one. Each of the character truly exemplified some hard hitting facets of what it's like to be a new adult in today's modern society. Life isn't easy, but Erickson has proved that there is hope out there for us all in this incredible read.

The plot line was pretty intriguing. Like Trust the Focus, Focus on Me is also a road trip novel, one of my favorite literary elements. I love me a good road trip novel and Erickson has knocked it out of the part twice. Traveling from coast to coast, Colin and Riley find so much more than memories on the open road. From sweat lodges to boardwalks, the storyline for Focus on Me was among the most unique I have read. There was a huge air of mystery in this story where you really didn't know what was going to happen at the end of the story, boy I never would have imagined how heart-wrenching the conclusion would be.

In true Erickson fashion, these characters are phenomenal. Anyone who was a huge fan of Trust the Focus will be pumped to hear that Justin and Landry make an appearance in a fairly large role. It was awesome to see them come back and to hear what they had been up to since the conclusion of book one. Riley and Colin were way different characters than I am used to reading. Each of these guys had enough internal conflict to warrant multiple books on their own, yet Erickson was able to find their resolutions through their love for one another. That was truly a touching aspect to this story, that their love for one another could conquer all of their outstanding issues. Each character was deeply flawed and missing something only the other could provide, it was the absolute perfect fit to see the two of them together.

As I mentioned earlier Focus on Me hits on some really true-to-life and emotional themes. It's a tear jerker. You've been warned. I won't go into specifics too much in an effort to avoid spoilers, but Erickson doesn't hold back. She tells the story in its' truest form with no sugar coating. The darkness, the depth of depression and mental illness are beautifully represented by Erickson who writes such themes with passion and a talent that shines.

In the end, Focus on Me has quickly made its' way to the top of my summer reads list and definitely has secured itself a spot on my bookshelf of all-time favorite NA LGBT reads. Through beautiful writing, complex characters, a gripping plot, and delicately crafted settings that accurately reflect the tone of the novel, Erickson has really raised the bar for this genre. It should come without shock that I thoroughly enjoyed this read, Erickson has really become and author to watch for me. All-in-all I am granting Focus on Me a well-earned 5-star review. While I didn't quite love it as much as Trust the Focus, it still stands on its' own as an incredible novel that I believe any reader will thoroughly enjoy! If this sounds like the read for you, don't hesitate to check this one out. Add this to your TBR, you won't be disappointed!

Check out my 5-star review of book one by clicking the cover below!

Alright guys, that's all I have for you on the topic of Focus on Me by Megan Erickson. Another trip outside of my 'norm', Megan Erickson has quickly become my go-to author to open my eyes about social issues our generation is facing. Her writing is beautiful and her stories are oh-so-fulfilling. I'm a big fan of her work. Be sure to check out both this story and Trust the Focus from the links above. Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, Happy Reading!


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