Grif’s Toy by Joseph Lance Tonlet, oh boy, this will be one of the strangest, longest and most likely one of the most philosophical book reviews I’ve ever written, be prepared.
If you research about what people fear the most, one of the most common things people fear in this world is death. The reasons why can differ immensely depending on who you ask but generally they fear leaving their loved ones, which is a legit fear, I don’t doubt but I don’t have it, (I know appalling) how I don’t fear death. If I die I won’t be here, I’ll be dead nothing to fear when there’s nothing to feel. I don’t control dying, all I know is that one day my day will come and that will be it. Death is a part of life, it happens and we all know it, so why try to control something that isn’t in my power to control.
What I do fear is living, living a life that isn’t quite what I expected, and knowing that while I walk around living this “bland” life, (it really isn’t as bad as I make it sound, but I’m trying to make a point), I'm not fulfilling my dreams because we are not here to fulfill our dreams we are here to be good girls and boys and do what is expected. (And no, I didn’t have overly harsh parent, on the contrary, my parents, especially, my mother encouraged me to go out there and experience life. The cliche: If I known what I know now about myself back when I was 20 a lot of things would have been different.) Reading books such as Grif’s Toy, and even learning a thing or two about the author himself, makes those bells of unfulfilled dreams rings mighty high right about now, but also make you understand, well at least makes me get why people come to the point and say screw the world I'm going to live my life for me no matter what other people think because I need to be happy. That's what Grif's Toy is about, being happy and doing everything you can to live a rich fulfilled life. So, while the rest of us (again not everyone of course) putter around and only do what is expected of us, there are those who go after their dreams and live them.
When I started reading Grif’s Toy, I’d read the blurb, seen some reviews and I believe I had a fair idea of what I was getting myself into. Well, boy was I wrong, about halfway through, at what I call the piercing part I was ready to chuck my kindle into the wall, even though, up to that point I’d really liked the book even if there were elements in it that I couldn’t grasp and fully understand.
First of all, Joseph has created main characters such as Weston Wes De Luca, Tate Diaz, and lets not forget about Marcus Grif Griffin that are real, and as for Grif he is accomplished, smart and has great confidence about his person and know very well what he wants and needs (even if I didn’t see it at first), he’s no victim or a person with a rotten self-esteem, not at all. He’s the ultimate force and drive in this story and a positive one of those. Even secondary characters, such as Matthew Smithton and Pavel Alexander are not just some filler roles, they are fleshed out and bring their own set of quirks, stories and facts to the book to why they are there, without them the story wouldn’t have been complete.
Secondly, Joseph is a damn good storyteller, he has a way with words that just magically pull you in and then bam the world as you know it is translated into the world he has created. I know for a fact, that I told my kids at one point to hush it because I was reading and I usually don't do that. Also, this story is told in a way that it sort of brings you from the past into the present and that is a tricky thing to do so it turns out well. I is important that you tell enough to get the reader to keep going and also understand what happens, when and with who, so when the end comes it makes sense. There was no issues with that here, Joseph rounded it off at then end really well and there weren't any loose ends left dangling, and the the light-bulb went on and I was home so to speak.
So, there I was ready to chuck my kindle in the wall and it took me forever to get through that chapter because I could only read a couple pages and then I had to let it rest for a bit and then go back to it. I didn’t understand, and I always have to understand where a person come from, it is a driving need in me, to understand why and to understand where people come from. It has nothing to do with me, that I have to want or need the same things, it has to do with understanding others and knowing that ultimately they are happy, ok, getting what they need, no matter what that is, maybe that I’m not turning my back to someone who needs my help, whatever. And usually, mind you now when I read BDSM books even if they are good books they always leave one thing unclear, or where I go “OK, I see what you are saying and I’m sure he/she’s happy but…” there’s always a but, a but containing that the submissive is portrayed as the person who has to be convinced by the more dominant part of what they need, like a child that needs a parent to explain why they need to brush their teeth. There’s always that aspect of hint of “parent, child” behavior (for the lack of a better comparison) and that drives me absolutely bonkers. I don't claim to be an expert on anything, especially not BDSM, but you don't convince someone to "do" BDSM you agree to do it together because you both want to and then discuss the do's and don't's.
This isn’t the case with Grif’s Toy, yes, I will admit you do have to read the whole story, from first word to last word to get the full feel of this, to understand it all and see this, but Grif is in no way shape or form not in control, or unsure of what he wants, needs or elsewhere confused. As a young man, he’s like any other young person, not fully fleshed out and 100 % secured in himself, but who is at that point, but as the book grows so does Grif and he’s kick ass. No doubt about it and here is the icing on the cake, Wes, he is not perfect! I’ve only read books by one other author that manages to do this, Wes, who’s the dominant part (if that is really how you can describe him because Joseph Lance Tonlet all through the book have Wes/Grif and Tate/Grif as equals and never strays from it) has insecurities of his own and this is also shown in a very soft and gentle way. I would even go so far to say that Weston doesn’t find his full confidence until he meets Grif, meeting Grif is what makes Wes blossom and fully believe he’s not “the freak” (to use Grif words) he think he is but that there’s a yin to his yang out there and more importantly, Grif is his yin.
Grif’s Toy, has given me a lot to reflection on, and that the best part about reading certain types of stories, even if I agree with the author that fiction is to be read as fiction, I still think a good book of fiction has so much truth in it that a good fiction book can help change lives. Grif’s Toy is such a story, it's about self discovery, about accepting yourself for who you are and in that acceptance maybe even learn to love yourself because of those “flaws”. That no matter what we all have our faults, our limits, but more so what may first come off as the most horrendous, unfair and dreadful thing in the world might be the one thing that later on takes you on the most valuable journey you could ever have taken, and without that one “flaw” you would have missed out on the one thing that helped changed your life, for the better.
You can find Joseph Lance Tonlet on the following:
Joseph Lance Tonlet's website
Dreamer, Writer, Reader and Metal Head.