REVIEW : Two Tribes – Fearne Hill

Two Tribes Book Cover Two Tribes
Fearne Hill
Bi Sexual Romance, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance
August 5, 2022

It’s 1995, and troubled seventeen-year-old Matt Leeson harbours three passions: indie music, wartime history, and the posh boy he sits next to in maths class.Not in that order. One of those passions is closely guarded, along with a few other secrets Matt tucks away. Such as his abusive father, the cramped run-down flat he calls home, and the futility of his dreams to escape both.

Twenty-five years later, and plodding Dr Alex Valentine, recently divorced, is looking back on a life less lived. On his failed marriage and the dull bore he’s become, on the empty, lonely weekends stretching ahead. And, in a corner of his mind, wondering what could have been, if only a slender, raven-haired young man hadn’t so abruptly vanished all those years ago.

First love. Teenage love. It should be nothing more than an opening chapter, right? A short prologue even, before the real test of adulthood begins.

But what if that chapter never closes?

Written with a light touch but please be kind to yourselves and observe trigger warnings for: death of a secondary character, depression, domestic abuse (off page), self-harm (off page), attempted suicide (off page)

Review by Ulysses Dietz

Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

What starts out like a classic YA story expands into a three-part, emotionally-charged saga about the lives of two young men, whose worlds intersect for a brief time, changing them both forever.

Matt Leeson and Alex Valentine are both seniors (sixth formers) at St. George’s school in Stourbridge (a town in England known, to me at least, for its glass). The year is 1995, and the UK is locked down in a “don’t say gay” moment caused by Section 28, a national law that forbade the “promotion of homosexuality” in any way in UK schools. The author makes a point of this, because this politically-motivated reality insured that young people in the UK who would struggling with their sexual identity would have absolutely no support during their formative years in the educational system.

Matt and Alex, however, have other issues as well. They are from different tribes. Matt is working class, lives in public housing; while Alex is the child of a well-to-do dentist who lives in the green suburbs. Their paths only cross because of maths class—something at which Matt excels but Alex does not.

So far, this feels like familiar Young Adult territory; but Fearne Hill has other plans. The three-part narrative starts entirely from Matt’s perspective—a poor boy from a miserable home, whose only real family are his best friends Brenner and Phil. Alex Valentine, all blond and athletic, whose family life seems a dream to Matt, is like a fairytale knight in shining armor. Alex can no more understand Matt’s worldview than he can imagine the neglect and cruelty of Matt’s homelife.

The second part of the book is set a decade later, and the perspective alternates between Matt and Alex. The author gives us a side-by-side comparison of how these still-young men have fared, each separated by his tribe into a reality that—but for their having met each other as teenagers—would have gone unquestioned. Neither young man is happy, and neither have forgotten their short time together.

Leave a Comment