In a last ditch effort to bring the downtown Detroit gastro pub he started with his late husband back to life, Asher Schenck fires everyone and hires a completely new staff. Among them is Tyler Heyward, a 23-year-old recent college graduate in need of funds to pay for med school. As their relationship shifts from business to friendship, Tyler falls for Asher and finds himself caught between the things he thought he wanted and the things he hasn’t allowed himself to dream about. Working together, they get to know each other’s dreams. Set in the backdrop of Detroit’s revival, Idlewild is a story about love and healing.
I’m biased, I should say this first. Because Jude is not only a friend but also a reviewer here at From Top to Bottom Reviews so I can’t review this book and claim I’m unbiased. It’s nonetheless an honest review. That said I loved Idlewild and already read it twice. 🙂
There’re books that are fast-paced, turbulent and BAM! you’re swept away by the story and the characters and everything that’s happening. Lots of action and twists, turns and surprises. Others are more gentle and subtle; they creep up on you and you don’t even realise how they lure you in until you’re a complete goner. Idlewild belongs to the latter ones. Quietly sneeking up on you until you’re enthralled and can’t put the book away.
On the one side there’s Asher, a widower who slowly lost control of his restaurant, because he was so shelled up in his world after the death of his partner. At the beginning of Idlewild Asher realises that he needs a clean cut to try to save Idlewild. He fires his whole staff and starts a new hiring process. During this he also meets Tyler.
“He’s not interested in just good emplyees. What he really wants is magic. These people are puzzle pieces, and Asher needs to figure out if he can put them together to not just save Idlewild, but make it thrive.”
Tyler is a genderqueer twenty-something year old. He dropped out of med-school and is now looking for a job. He is a charismatic and fascinating character. Tyler at one point describes himself as a chameleon and that probably fits best. Tyler adapts really well to what people need. He’s comfortable in the in-between.
“He knows who he is: the boy who travels the in-between spaces, who bridges things. He’s a conduit and a chameleon.”
I loved the way Asher and Tyler slowly got closer, how they got to know each other and then fell in love. How they pushed each other to be more. But also the uncertainty of not knowing where exactly you “stand”. As I mentioned before Asher is a widower and while he thinks he’s over the death of his partner, things are a bit different.
I can’t really say anything more because I don’t want to spoil anything. But basically Idlewild is a story about finding yourself and what you want and also about letting go and carrying on after a loss.
Jude’s way with words can’t be described as anything else than poetic. Her writing is so rich and magical; all around just so damn beautiful. Setting the scene with such ease that leaves you in awe and feels like you’re *there* with Asher and Tyler in Asher’s flat, or in Idlewild working together.
There’s not a single character I didn’t like. And I hope Jude will someday write Malik’s story.
Idlewild really has everything: a great cast of characters (Tylers mom is great!), a fantastic storyline and vivid scenery. And the food! (caramel apples <3) 100% recommended!