One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The blurb says “funny and heartfelt.” Was I reading a different story? Because this felt too simple too short; there’s very little the lead has to figure out here. And if there was anything to be dealt with, it’s done easily enough.
To start we have Alek, very critical of the way his family is; in much the same way he felt them treating him. So… it’s a young story and he, a young lead. The same is never more obvious in how he sees his parents; and how he feels himself treated by them and his “too perfect” older brother. Essentially, there’s skewed perspective on all their parts; that over critical tendency that he complained of in his parents; well, he could be the very same. There’s a lot of “It’s not fair-ing” all around.
As to the romance, this is no Sedaris book (and I don’t care what the blurb says). There’s a lack of depth here - given the almost too simple resolution on his questions of “what if” and then later of “what now.” He is a blank slate when it comes to everything it seems; yet he draws Ethan in nonetheless because there’s a “Rightness” to how he could be. He’s molded and allowed to learn but a lot of that was superficial (which was fun and cute) but … again: depth, where’d you go?
Past that though and we see as more than the kid learning about himself and where he was going; because there were one or two teachable moments of Alek acting like the stand up guy he obviously was.
So, this was not as funny or heartfelt as I was expecting especially, with moments that felt forced, contrived even. Then there were those more rare moments that were genuinely funny. I just wish this had more of… everything it promised.
Still, thank you, net galley!
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