I received The Magnificent Sons for free via Netgalley in exchange for a review.
I raced through The Magnificent Sons during a particularly sunny locked-down afternoon; and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As he nears his 30th birthday, Jake D’Arcy decides that it’s finally time he comes to terms with his sexuality, and start exploring what he has known since he was a teenager; that’s he bisexual. This comes on the heels of his younger brother’s coming out: Trick is a teenage vlogger, and his parents are supportive when he tells them that he’s gay.
Jake’s own journey is harder; not only have his parents and friends only ever known him as a straight man, he is also having to educate the people around him exactly what it means to be bisexual. Jake also has a long-term girlfriend, Amelia, not to mention a difficult relationship with his family, from whom he distances himself as he doesn’t seem to fit in. As he navigates his new identity, he suddenly finds himself with one foot in the gay world, and one in the straight world, and can’t connect fully in either one.
Bisexuality isn’t something that I see an awful lot of in my reading (though this is, I’m sure, mostly down to my own shortcomings in seeking out diverse stories), so it was good to see it given centre stage here. Jake is constantly having to defend himself against accusations of being confused, or of being sexually attracted to everyone. His parents, in particular, find it very difficult to come to terms with, something that Jake resents in the face of what he sees as his younger brother’s very easy path to acceptance. In reality, neither brother can see how privileged they are; in a conversation between Jake and Trick’s trans friend Kia it becomes excruciatingly clear that as white, cis males, both brothers are going to find life a little easier than some. As Kia puts it, “you’re, like, six vitamin shots ahead.”
This is a story as much about family as it is about sexuality; while Jake is our hero, it’s clear from the very beginning that we, as the reader, aren’t expected to be entirely on his side, nor believe everything that he tells us about how he fits in, or doesn’t fit in, to the family dynamic. Without giving away any spoilers about the plot, there’s an inevitable denouement that feels entirely fitting, and doesn’t entirely sacrifice the complexities of the characters that the book spends time building.
The Magnificent Sons is a compelling story that explores the intricacies of family and sexuality, while being entertaining and amusing; pick yourself a sunny afternoon and devour it!
The Magnificent Sons by Justin Myers
Publication Date: eBook and audiobook – 28th May / Hardback – 6th August
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for a review