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“Tender and poignant, Washington’s latest hits the spot.” – PEOPLE Magazine
From the bestselling, award-winning author of Memorial and Lot, an irresistible, intimate novel about two young men, once best friends, whose lives collide again after a loss.
Cam is living in Los Angeles and falling apart after the love of his life has died. Kai's ghost won't leave Cam alone; his spectral visits wild, tender, and unexpected. When Cam returns to his hometown of Houston, he crashes back into the orbit of his former best friend, TJ, and TJ's family bakery. TJ's not sure how to navigate this changed Cam, impenetrably cool and self-destructing, or their charged estrangement. Can they find a way past all that has been said - and left unsaid - to save each other? Could they find a way back to being okay again, or maybe for the first time?
When secrets and wounds become so insurmountable that they devour us from within, hope and sustenance and friendship can come from the most unlikely source. Spanning Los Angeles, Houston, and Osaka, Family Meal is a story about how the people who know us the longest can hurt us the most, but how they also set the standard for love. With his signature generosity and eye for food, sex, love, and the moments that make us the most human, Bryan Washington returns with a brilliant new novel.
Washington's tender, melancholic latest (following Memorial) explores the complicated nature of grief and love. Cam, mourning the death of his lover Kai, is back in Houston after spending time in rehab, but he's still struggling with addiction and an eating disorder. When the bar he's working at closes, Cam accepts childhood friend TJ's job offer at his family bakery. Between his visions of the deceased Kai and attempts to ease his pain with random hookups, Cam's despair is palpable: he feels he is "suffocating from the weight of myself." At the narrative's midpoint, the perspective shifts first to Kai's flashbacks, then to TJ, who observes that Cam's grief and psychological work in rehab have transformed him into "a weed in the concrete that finally found wiggle room." TJ's parallel story is equally consuming, as he navigates his secret relationship with Ian and his budding romance with Noel, a new employee at the bakery. When Noel asks TJ to cook a meal for their family, the two begin a tentative relationship that forces TJ to question what he really wants. Washington brings his tough but fragile characters to life with quietly powerful prose, as when TJ reflects, "I didn't want to be accepted or tolerated. I wanted to just be." Readers will be deeply moved.