The Magnificent Sons is a funny, compelling novel about a man dealing with his relationship with his family and coming out as bisexual. Jake is twenty-nine, in a relationship with a nice woman, and feels completely different to the rest of his loud, in your face family. When his younger brother Trick comes out as gay on his seventeenth birthday, Jake realises his own response might be to do with his own repressed self. People already think they know Jake, though, so he finds himself navigating old and new relationships, as his family and friends work out their own lives too.
I knew of Justin Myers from his commentaries on The Guardian’s Blind Date feature on his blog The Guyliner, and he combines the sharp wit of those posts with the underlying sweetness of wanting people to have a nice date in The Magnificent Sons. This isn’t a lingering musing on emotions or even really a brooding look at coming out (regardless of how much people see Jake as brooding), but a funny, sharp book that focuses on character relationships and the quirks and differences that people have. Other characters’ points of view are brought in at times to highlight where Jake is holding prejudices and assumptions about not only their lives, but how they see him, and the novel in general is not only about Jake, though focused on him. The characters, style, and a few unfinished storylines left me wishing the book didn’t end, but it was also well-pitched to show that events were still a work in progress and that things wouldn’t be easy for Jake, Trick, or anyone else just because some things were more resolved.
This is a fun book that is great to sit down and devour in a short space of time, but it is also a great look at how people of different ages deal with sexuality and relationships, how assumptions don’t help people get along or support each other, and how people can react to bisexuality. There’s also hope that the novel will help people in similar situations to Jake to think about their own lives and what they want, because coming to terms with sexuality isn’t something restricted to a particular age group.