by Belangela G. Tarazona

"Michael wants to tell him so many things. He wants Frank to know that if he has a say on how to live his future, it would be together with him. Michael wants him to know that he is so sorry for not being strong enough to fight for them back in the seventies. That he can't change the past, and that's why he doesn't want to let this happen with his future."

Belangela Tarazona's tender tale opens with Michael who has a surprising, but brief reunion with Frank, a man with whom Michael shares very fond and intimate memories. Michael's wife, Nadja, clearly sees through their awkward attempt to hide what might be the true nature of their relationship. But the moment passes and Michael and Frank part ways. Years later Michael loses Nadja to breast cancer and Frank reappears in his life once again. As Michael sorts through the aftershock of Nadja's death, he attempts to bond and repair relations with his two children, Helenne and Sebastian, while slowly rekindling his relationship with Frank. But Michael is dealt another blow when he learns he has a terminal cancer and he faces regrets and emotions and a life he should have always lived while coming to terms with what little time he has left on earth.

Hiatus is a story of love, grief, familial kinship, and second chances. Frank and Michael's connection is emblematic of the way many gay men were (and sadly still are today) often forced to repress their relationship amid social pressures. Through the tragedy of Nadja's death and the terminal cancer that strikes Michael, truths are revealed and Michael and Frank finally allow themselves to love one another openly. While Hiatus ends almost a bit too neatly, it's down-to-earth with characters that are identifiable, who face realistic emotions and situations (though Frank's strange communal with his dead Aunt Emma as a way to deal with his internal struggles borders on creepy). Tarazona handles Frank and Michael's love and its effect on everyone around them honestly and with care, transcending her novel beyond just a mere gay romance. Hiatus will resonant with readers who understand opportunities lost, the importance of embracing those we love, and the preciousness of time.

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