Names Can Never Hurt Me by Wade Kelly


 What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way?Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led to much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care.

When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. Overweight, always sweaty, gay, and hairy like a bear, RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head.

Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22707746-names-can-never-hurt-me?ac=1
Warning this book contains discussions of rape to one of the main characters while he was a child.
Wow this book was not a short, sweet and superficial read.  This was one of those heart-wrenching and yet fulfilling tales of self-discovery.  This book explores our society’s obsession with labeling people and placing them into appropriate boxes based on those labels. 
I had never really given thought to the meaning behind some of the words we use to describe both ourselves and each
other.  RC is a tattooed bear and Nick is pretty boy player.  Neither one has really ever had a real relationship until they meet each other.  While Nick has an understanding and supportive family he doesn’t know if he wants to accept the “gay” label and then all of the baggage attached to it.  I was pulling for the two of them from the beginning.  I wanted Nick to grow up and see the amazing man RC was, while at the same time I wanted RC to stand up for himself and believe that he deserved the happiness Nick could bring to his life. 
This was a book that was well-worth the emotional journey it took me on.