Oh, Sunset Park. Whew. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions!
It’s not necessary to read Sutphin Boulevard before beginning Sunset Park, but it will make a lot more sense if you did. Read my review of Sutphin Boulevard here.
Sunset Park is a standalone and book two in the Five Borough Series, however, to get a sense of David and Raymond and their connection, you might want to grab it. Full disclosure, I wasn’t fond of David in Sutphin Boulevard and had no interest in reading Sunset Park because I knew it would focus on his story, but the nosy reader part of me was anxious to see what Mr. Hassell would do with David and Raymond. I wasn’t disappointed.
Raymond Rodriguez is Michael’s younger brother. After the death of their parents, Michael wants to sell his childhood home and move in with his boyfriend, Nunzio. What does this mean? It means slacker Raymond has to get out, get his life together, and find a place to live. Raymond is the typical twenty-five-year-old, so many of us have likely come across. Has no clue what he wants to do with his life, can’t hold down a decent job, smokes pot and plays video games most of the time. David Butler is the yuppie public school teacher who spends more than he earns, shops at the finest boutiques, has crazy student loan debt but manages to be responsible. These two are total opposites which is why the story works.
David is out and proud, Raymond is bi-curious and interested in exploring his sexuality. These two form an unlikely friendship that of course introduces my favorite book trope, friends to lovers! Raymond is gritty. If you’re not into characters who have flaws and curse like drunken sailors in a brothel, then his language might bother you but I absolutely loved it. I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit at some of the dialogue. The Grindr scene alone… holy moly! HOT!
While I didn’t enjoy Sunset Park as much as Sutphin Boulevard, I enjoyed both reads immensely. Mr. Hassell’s writing style is incredibly smooth. He can easily paint a picture of New York City where the reader becomes immersed in the tale and makes it feel as if they’re standing right next to the characters. Of course, being born and raised in Brooklyn, I loved the homage to one of the coolest neighborhoods in the borough. If you’re looking for a friends to lovers trope where lines are crossed, jealousy enters the equation, and a lot of self-discovery happens, then you’ll want to pick up Sunset Park. I guarantee it’s time well spent. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installment. Mr. Hassell has become one of my favorite authors in 2015.