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Why All the Love?

Continuing off of the momentum of my previous post, I want to mention something from Aaron and Ahmed by which I’m incredibly intrigued. That something is, of course, the relationship between Aaron and Ahmed. And when I say “relationship,” I don’t just mean the fact that they’re together for virtually the entire book.

The attention paid to the feelings between the two men is far too explicit on the part of both the writer of the novel, Jay Cantor, and its illustrator, James Romberger, to be glazed over. Yet, there are a number of factors that must be considered if the potential attraction between the main characters is going to be evaluated on any level.  First among these is trust.

Because the story is told from the point of view of Aaron, it is trust in Ahmed that must be explored by the reader.  The character of Ahmed is incredibly inconsistent and secretive.  He is seen repeatedly to have withheld information from Aaron supposedly until he deemed it safe and convenient to disclose it, including vital information concerning the safety of all characters involved in the novel.  Of course, the knowledge of his amorous feelings for Aaron is also hidden until very late in the story.  The reader is left to wonder at the legitimacy of anything Ahmed says when faced with the reality of his secrecy, as well as with certain suspicious incidents, such as the triggering image being concealed within the gum wrapper Ahmed himself purchased.

So, is it true that Ahmed has feelings for Aaron? The fact that he knew about the hormones being given to him by Aaron can work both ways; on one hand, it could indicate that Ahmed is legitimately attracted to men (he alludes teasingly that Aaron is “just the only boy in town” for him).  On the other hand, it could mean that he anticipated a need to act as though he is legitimately attracted to men, and to play on Aaron’s anticipation of such behavior.

…Then, there is the fact of how Ahmed dies. And, of course, the title: Aaron and Ahmed: A Love Story.

So, what’s real?

 

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