blog tour · excerpt reveal

Hold My Hand Blog Tour, Excerpt and GIVEAWAY by Michael Barakiva.

Hold My Hand
Michael Barakiva
Published by: Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: May 21st 2019
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

Alek Khederian thinks about his life B.E. and A.E.: Before Ethan and After Ethan. Before Ethan, Alek was just an average Armenian-American kid with a mess of curly dark hair, grades not nearly good enough for his parents, and no idea of who he was or what he wanted. After he got together with Ethan, Alek was a new man. Stylish. Confident. (And even if he wasn’t quite marching in LGBTQ parades), Gay and Out and Proud.

With their six-month anniversary coming up, Alek and Ethan want to do something special to celebrate. Like, really special. Like, the most special thing two people in love can do with one another. But Alek’s not sure he’s ready for that. And then he learns something about Ethan that may not just change their relationship, but end it.

Alek can’t bear the thought of finding out who he’d be P.E.: Post-Ethan. But he also can’t forgive or forget what Ethan did. Luckily, his best friend Becky and madcap Armenain family are there to help him figure out whether it’s time to just let Ethan go, or reach out and hold his hand.

Hold My Hand is a funny, smart, relatable take on the joy and challenges of teenage love, the boundaries of forgiveness, and what it really means to be honest.

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EXCERPT
KISSING ETHAN.
Kissing Ethan rocked.
Kissing Ethan was like taking a rocket to outer space, floating in zero gravity, and marveling at the incomprehensible beauty of the creations of the universe. Kissing Ethan was sweet like the last piece of baklava, drenched in honey, snatched from the bottom of the box. Kissing Ethan was the answer to an unasked prayer.
And then there was being kissed by Ethan.
Being kissed by Ethan was not the same as kissing him.
Being kissed by Ethan was rapture, surrender. Being kissed was surfing a wave of joy, unpredictable and uncontrollable, that could break any moment and send you tumbling, an end- less series of surprises.
Being kissed by Ethan was endorphins kicking in two hours into a tennis match, transforming pain into euphoria. It was being a ship in a violent storm, hoping you wouldn’t be torn apart as the ocean churned beneath you. It was feeling like your skin, your very body, would explode because it couldn’t possibly contain all the joy pulsing through it.
Alek brought Ethan’s face back up to his own. He kissed Ethan back.
Kissing Ethan was safer than being kissed by him. “Whoa.” Alek pulled away, gasping for air, as if he’d just edged out a victory in the tiebreaker of a five-set tennis match, full of baseline strokes, cross-court slams, and net game saves. “Come on,” Ethan purred. “We’re just getting started.”
Hundreds of half-naked men stared at Alek from the images Ethan had plastered around his room, cut from magazine ads—a kaleidoscopic homage to homoeroticism. The effect was dizzying as wall and ceiling and floor merged, seemingly seamlessly, with sculpted torsos and abs and chests and calves.
“I promised my mom I’d help get ready for Thanksgiving.” Alek retrieved his bright purple shirt with plaid-gray details from the chair by Ethan’s desk, the only pieces of furniture in the room other than the bed, where Ethan remained.
“I hate to point out the obvious, but Thanksgiving isn’t for another week.” Ethan rolled over. “Or is this some weird Armenian thing, like Christmas, that you celebrate at a different time than everyone else in the whole freakin’ world?”
“We Armenians celebrate Thanksgiving just like everyone else in this country, thank you very much. Although, did you know that Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October?”
“No, I did not know that.” Ethan sat up, surrendering to Alek’s departure. “You’re going to your grandma’s for Thanks- giving, right?”
“That was the plan.” Alek finished the last buttons on his shirt and grabbed his leather book bag, groaning under its nearing-midterms weight. “But then Nana twisted her ankle, so she decided she wasn’t up to hosting Thanksgiving. I will try to spare you the political saga that ensued as my dad and his two siblings negotiated who would assume the mantle, but suffice to say it involved three instances of blackmail, two of coercion, the reemergence of a fight from twenty years ago when my dad and his older sister were in college that had something to do with a cat, tears, apologies, more tears, and a complicated negotiation involving a credenza that both my dad and his younger brother would like once Nana finally passes to the next world. We’re talking backroom deals that would almost put 45’s presidential administration to shame.”
“And this is sparing me the saga?”
Alek nodded. “The long and short of it is that we will be hosting Thanksgiving this year, so yes—seven days is barely enough time to prepare. My mom took the week off from the UN. THE ENTIRE WEEK. Because she knows that hosting her in-laws is a prime opportunity for Nana to judge my mom’s cooking, housekeeping, and child-rearing. In fact, one of the Sunday-morning news shows theorized that Nana intention- ally twisted her ankle just to have the opportunity to criticize whoever was fool enough to step up.”
Ethan rolled over on his back, defeated. “Are all Armenian families this complicated?”
“From what I hear at church, we’re on the simpler side. My mom has six siblings who all live in the same town in South- ern Cali. I’m amazed they haven’t had a Romeo and Juliet–style feud spring up there.” Alek finished tying his shoes. “I’ll see you soon, okay?”

Author Bio:

Michael Barakiva, author of One Man Guy, is a theater director and writer of Armenian/Israeli descent who lives in Manhattan with his husband, Rafael. He is a graduate of Vassar College and the Juilliard School, an avid cook and board-game player, and a soccer player with the New York Ramblers.

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