Unlike many other writers whom I’ve discovered via blogging and Twitter, the author of this particular book was an unexpected discovery when she asked to join my book review Facebook group. I must admit to having had some initial misgivings when I first started reading this book, but having put them aside, this proved to be one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this past year. Further links to the author and her work can be found at:
Kevin Boy to Man, by E. Finklemeyer
(Available in eBook formats via Amazon and Smashwords)
Superficially this book might well be described as a Coming of Age or Rites of Passage story, but to do so would fall far short of doing it justice. The story initially centres around Kevin, a lonely but in many ways very typical teenager or young man, and his desire to engage with the opposite sex, make friends, and find his place in the world. The reader’s first impressions of Kevin are somewhat tainted to say the least, portrayed as he is as a sex starved fantasizing teenage version of a dirty old man, totally devoid of any redeeming characteristics, trolling the internet for mucky pics to further fuel his fantasies and act them out in a way typical of a horny young man or teenage boy in the privacy of his own bedroom. And so too his home and family: a mother who seems over protective and patronising of him, a bed ridden indifferent father, and no real friends to speak of other than his ‘Aunt’ Violet, a woman more than old enough to be his mother with whom he seems to enjoy an unhealthy interest and relationship with, again furthering the reader’s dislike of him; such are his efforts in this and other endeavours that it would be very easy to lose all sympathy whatsoever for him, but as the book progresses so too does the reader’s perception and understanding of him.
The language is colourful and explicit from the start, but in an honest and matter of fact way rather than gratuitous or intended to shock. The same can largely be said of the sex scenes too, and whilst the later do not leave too much to the imagination, they’re more likely to make the reader laugh out loud than become aroused in any way, as is their intention. I wasn’t overly keen on the block paragraph style of presentation, a format which I find better suited to the flash fiction and short story format. I must admit too that I found the first fifteen to twenty per cent of the book hard going, portraying Kevin, his life and his family in as bleak and sordid a way as is possible to imagine, but from this bleakness emerges a story of such joy and comic humour, and at times tragic loss and sadness it was impossible for me not to completely forgive any initial short comings
Out of Kevin’s solitary sordid fantasies and activities, what emerges is the story of a young man who comes to realise there’s a lot more to life than tending to the needs of what’s between his legs; where once he was sad and lonely he eventually finds himself surrounded by the best and truest friends he could ever hope for – as strange, funny, and unlikely a collection of individuals one might ever hope to meet. The adventures Kevin and his new found friends get up to really have to be read to be believed – think old people’s home meets juvenile detention centre with a healthy helping of geek, sex, and eventually love thrown in and you start to get the idea – any comparisons with Tom Sharpe would not be undeserved!
A word of warning though, try to avoid reading in this in public places such as trains or bus – switching between stifling laughter and then trying to hide the fact you’re welling up with tears and a lump in your throat can be quite embarrassing…
For sheer unadulterated joyous and uplifting entertainment, a thoroughly well deserved five star recommendation!