Hello, everyone. Thank you to Divine Magazine for hosting me today. I’m excited to share “Ethan” with you.
Carter Stevenson is looking forward to a fresh start in a new high school on the other side of the country. It’ll give him a chance to escape his reputation for twitching and stuttering. He’ll have the summer to himself in his new home in California, and in the fall, he won’t get involved in any activity that puts his Tourette’s center stage. He won’t stand out as different.
But his new neighbor, Ethan, isn’t just going to change his plans. He’s going to change Carter’s life.
Ethan Hart is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm or love for life. As soon as he sees Carter, who moves like the music Ethan sees between the clouds and the grass, he’s determined to become his friend, and then his boyfriend. And even if his parents say their romance can’t get physical, Ethan won’t let it stand in the way of falling in love.
Stepping into the spotlight was the last thing Carter ever wanted, but Ethan, along with a group of friends who like him just the way he is—tics and all—starts to change his mind.
Adapted as a YA edition of the award-winning novel Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless.
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
I’m not much of a graphic designer, but I made this little thing to share with you guys. Ethan is on the top and Carter is on the bottom.
Instead of taking his dad’s arm, Ethan stood next to me and looked at me expectantly until I held my elbow out like Nolan had. Grinning, Ethan looped his arm through. “This might be hard because you’re short, but I need you for balance, not to hold me up or anything.”
“I’m not short; you’re tall,” I said. I’d taken my shirt off, but Ethan still wore his. It brushed against my skin as we walked. Reaching out with my free hand, I grabbed a bit of loose fabric. I let go before I could decide if the movement had been a tic or something I’d wanted to do. Ethan grabbed my hand back and put it on his stomach.
“It’s okay if you want.”
“Sorry.” I took my hand away. “Your shirt was tickling me.”
“Oh. Okay.” Ethan didn’t speak for a few minutes as we continued our slow trek to the picnic tables. Then he stopped and pulled me in even closer until our foreheads touched. “Can I show you something?”
“Sure.” Glancing up the beach, I saw the others a fair distance away. Ethan pointed to the sky.
I looked. The sun had moved off its midday highpoint to begin its descent. The sky was a pale blue with broad clouds spaced among it.
“Can you hear it?” Ethan asked.
Realizing what was happening, I paused. Ethan was sharing his gift with me, his ability to hear music in everything. I stared up at the clouds. “Show me how.”
“It’s in between,” Ethan said. “Listen for the spaces.”
I closed my eyes. I listened to the wind and the ocean. And then, there, in the space between the water lapping the coast and the seagulls’ cries, I heard it. Silence. And in the silence, anything. Infinite possibility. Grabbing Ethan, I opened my eyes. “I heard it.”
Ethan’s eyes grew wide. “What did it sound like to you?”
“It sounded like… everything.” I yelped in surprise when Ethan pulled me into a hug.
“I knew you’d understand. It’s because you’ve got your own music.” Breaking away, he patted my chest. “People who don’t have it, they don’t understand. But that’s the problem.” Ethan took my arm again and started walking. “Everyone has their own music; they just don’t realize it. But you do.” He grinned at me.
“I didn’t until you showed me,” I said. “Thank you.”
“I knew it was in you, that’s why I liked you from when I saw you. And you’re cute too.”
I hid my embarrassment behind a cough as Ethan beamed at me. “Ethan, we’re just friends, remember?”
“Yeah.” Ethan’s smile didn’t falter. “There aren’t any rules against saying you’re cute, are there?”
“No. I guess not. Okay.” To disguise my embarrassment, I gave Ethan a light punch on his arm. “Good.”
Review by Janice Birnie
An unforgettable story of young love.
Every once in a while, a novel comes along that stays with you long after the you’ve turned the last page. It’s characters and plot move you in unexpected ways. Ethan, by Ryan Loveless, is one such story. It is a beautifully written novel that teaches as it absorbs you into the world of two extraordinary young men, their families, and friends.
Carter Stevenson is a gifted young musician, who also happens to have Tourette’s Syndrome. TS has impacted on his life in significant, and often hurtful, ways. He goes to a school where there is insufficient support and he is forced to live a half life with few friends. When he bravely attempts to take part in the school concert and is mocked and forced from the stage there is no going back. Fortunately, Carter’s father has just received a transfer from work and, Carter is given the opportunity to start fresh in a new town, at a new school. He’ll be turning sixteen and has the whole summer holidays to find his way in the new environment. Carter is determined not to stand out or draw attention to himself. Perhaps that way he can avoid the laughter and finger pointing.
Ethan Hart is Carter’s new neighbour. He is eighteen years old and recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Ethan hears music in the sky, the stars and the world around him. When Carter moves next door he sees a whole new world of music in Carters movements and tics. Where others see differences, Ethan sees beauty. Convincing Carter to open up to him and his numerous friends, to trust, and even open himself to love, becomes Ethan’s mission. Resistance is futile and Carter’s life is about to change in ways he never thought possible.
Ethan is first and foremost a beautiful love story. Ryan Loveless tells the story from each character’s POV and in so doing gives us a window into the hearts and minds of two exceptional young men. Living with TS and TBI has given each of them obstacles to overcome, whilst facing a world that can be cruel and judgemental. It has also, however, given them unique perspectives, empathy, and resilience far beyond their years. Together they may just be even more extraordinary than separately.
Ryan Loveless’ earlier novel, Ethan, Who Loved Carter, tells the story of Ethan and Carter meeting as adults. Revisiting these characters, and writing about what might have been if they’d met as young adults led to the release of this wonderful novel. These characters and this author were new to me and I can’t wait to one click the first novel to read their story from a different perspective. Whether they are new to you, or you’ve read about them meeting as adults, I highly recommend this novel. I could not put this book down, but I didn’t want it to end. Ethan and Carter’s story will stay with me and this book will be on my reread shelf permanently.
Star Rating: ★★★★★
Meet Ryan Loveless
Ryan Loveless is a farmer’s daughter. She has a BA in English from a private college in Illinois and a master’s degree in library and information science with an archival certificate from a university in New York. Raised in a conservative family, she was shocked and relieved when her coming out was largely uneventful. She has been writing since she could read and has always drifted toward M/M because she enjoys the relationship dynamics. It’s possible that her first story was about GI Joe. She wishes she still had that story.