Review: Hobbled by John Inman

Standard

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

HobbledEighteen year old Danny Shay should be having the time of his life, but its not working out like that. Now living with his dad in San Diego, Danny should be enjoying the summer but his own lack of judgement and outrage over his boss’s shorting his paycheck led to his current predicament.  He is under house arrest, hobbled by an ankle monitor courtesy of the San Diego PD and a cast on his leg, the last being his fault at throwing a tantrum at work and destroying an ice machine.  So now he is bored and lonely since his dad is out of town on business. Danny is also horny as only a gay 18 year old virgin can be by himself in the house, unable to leave.

But then the house next door is sold and a young man, a young cute man, is moving in with his father and dog and things start to look up.  Now if only he could figure out how to meet him without setting off his ankle monitor.  Plus there is a serial killer loose in the neighborhood  targeting young men, two fourth grade boys lurking around Danny’s house determined to be the next Hardy boys and the scene is set for riotous goings on.  When the killer targets Danny and his new neighbor, it will take all their wiles and help from unexpected sources to stay alive.

Hobbled is my third book that I have read by John Inman and it cements his place in my “must read” company of authors whose works I grab up immediately with nary a glance at a publishers blurb or jacket cover.  John Inman must either have vivid memories of his experiences as a 18 year old gay teenager or is able to channel his inner teenager because I can’t think of any author whose recent stories brought to life what it means to be 18 as realistically as the author did in Hobbled.  I just enjoyed this story so much that my usual quibbles with consistency and instalove are easily put aside.

If you know  teenagers, then every part of this story will speak to you, from the first feelings of lust and love (oh, the drama of a first love) to the unspeakable eating habits that seem normal as a teenager yet make you shudder as an adult.   Inman gets their dialog right too.  And it’s not just  Danny and Luke, his new neighbor, but two eleven year olds, (“that’s fourth grade”, mind you , they tell people in an instant), Bradley and DeVon.  Those two kids almost steal the book away from Danny and Luke.  Bradley and DeVon are Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and the Hardy Boys all rolled into the two most intrepid, fearless kids you will want to meet, and then just maybe strangle when you stop laughing.  But back to  teenage eating habits:

Here is a sample of Danny and Luke chowing down at Danny’s house:

Wet like that, it was really red, Danny noticed. Much more so than it was when it was dry. Danny watched as Luke swung a bare leg over the back of the kitchen chair and plopped himself down. He arranged his silverware neatly beside his plate, since Danny had just sort of tossed it on the table, not caring where it all went. Then while Danny still stood there watching him, Luke reached across the table and arranged Danny’s silverware too.

When he was finished, Luke motioned to the opposite chair. “Sit,” he said. “Eat. I’m starved.”

And Danny finally expelled the breath of air he had been holding for the longest time. He sank into the chair, happy to get off his wobbly legs, and they both started loading their plates with all kinds of stuff. Potato salad, ham, pickles, bread, coleslaw, cold pizza left over from a couple of days ago, cold green beans that had been in the fridge for God knows how long but didn’t stink yet so they must be okay. They ate as eighteen-year-olds always eat. With tons of enthusiasm and not a speck of conversation.

.If you have ever watched teenagers eat, then you must be nodding your head in acknowledgement of the accuracy of that moment.  I know I did. In scene after scene, Inman writes realistic, goofy, brave, scared wonderful teenage boys These characters are funny, earnest, heartbreaking and always believable.  And I think that’s why their case of instant love is not only acceptable but in keeping with their teenage years as well. During those years, you fall hard and fast.  Love at first sight?  Absolutely.  A forever love found in under 5 minutes flat? You bet.  Its special that first love, its mind blowing and heart pounding, it’s everything, a moment and a person people always remember.  And for some, it does last forever.  That’s the magic of it, when you are young everything is possible and Inman gets that too.

And on top of being under house arrest, being new in San Diego and living with his dad, Danny is also trying to come to grips with the fact that he is gay.  Danny wants to tell his father that he is gay but like any other LGBTQ youth, Danny is having trouble saying it.  He is pretty sure that his father will still love him, but that small uncertainty is holding him back.  When hearing Danny’s inner monologue as he tries to summon the courage to come out to his father, you realize just how momentous this decision is and just how high the ramifications might be.  One more realistic component in an already marvelous book of self realization and coming out at a young age.

True, there are some aspects of Hobbled that normally would have me rolling my eyes as the events stretch the bounds of believability (especially later on with Danny’s father).  But all the good will and affection the book has built up just steamrollers over those sections, so that if you do find yourself making an eye roll or two (yeah, yeah I know), than it will be with smiles instead of incredulity.  I love this book and fell hard for Danny, Luke, DeVon and Bradley and even Mrs. Trumball.  I think you will too.  So grab a pizza, a stick of Cover Up, a Coke, and your memories of your teenage years, buy this book and settle in for a wonderful story of young love, coming out, and oh yeah,a criminal on the loose.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is perfect for Hobbled in every way.

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages
Published June 10th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623808561 (ISBN13: 9781623808563)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com