We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: m/m contemporary
Truman L. Cobbler is a smallish high school student who's left more than one high school after becoming the target of bullying. His new school seems like it's going to be another of those but when Truman meets and is befriended by Javier Castillo, the school's baseball prodigy and the most popular guy in the school, things take an unexpected turn.
Author, Jacob Z. Flores teaches writing at the university level and he's great at taking a fantasy set-up and breathing life into it while getting you to care for his characters. One can certainly do worse than that.
On the downside, This tale is told in first person but the protagonist is a high school student. The narrative sounds kinda stilted for a high-schooler. More like something someone on the OTHER side of 30 might write.
Listening to a book aloud sometimes highlights the awkwardness of the phrasings and this book has several examples of that, for example "cars' horns blared" sounds much more awkward than "car horns blared" whereas I'd probably not have noticed if I were reading rather than listening.
Mark Westfield does a commendable job with the narration here giving each character their own "voice" and deftly handling the varying levels of accents some of the Latino characters have. The women's voices are rendered as distinct without taking on the grating falsetto quality so often given them by male narrators. Also there are some special effects of sorts including speeches muffled by shoulders or made hollow by microphones that are well rendered.
Javi and True are both high school students living at home and generally, the level of physical affection is consistent with that. However, (view spoiler)
I enjoyed this and I'll certainly try another of Mr. Flores's books someday but his slightly overwrought prose is the kind of thing that I'll need a cool-down period from before I can reasonably expect to fully enjoy another of his tales. Of course, as an aspiring writer myself, I may well be overly sensitive to this aspect of the writing and I'd urge you to judge for yourselves. From my small sampling, I'd say that his tales are sweet and generally enjoyable.