Huston Piner is a new to me author and I am thrilled to say I will be keeping track of his work from this point on. The most fascinating and thrilling aspect of this man’s novel, My Life As A Myth, is if you removed the minor historical references about the 1970’s, this story could take place today quite easily. He writes characters that have a universal appeal and I think just about every teenager today could see glimpses of themselves in this amazing group of high school students. I say amazing not because they are all written as these wonderful, unbelievable teens, but because they are so realistically crafted and down to earth. Woven throughout this book are moments of genuine pain, depression, first love, guilt, caring, and all the typical teen angst from wanting to be considered as popular to the very real anguish of being an outcast. While there is key mention of how society viewed homosexuality in that time era and how it plays an important role in the way main character, Nick, views himself and his newfound feelings for best friend Bobby, it could easily translate as to how many still feel today. Nick felt the crushing weight of being thought of as “evil, mentally sick, and deviant.” It added to his already considerable depression and self-doubt. My heart wept for this boy and how his life spiraled out of control, often through no fault of his own.
A quick synopsis of this story follows new freshman, Nick, from his first day of high school throughout most of his first year. During that time he will experience the joys of newfound friends who have his back, plus understand the weight of what it is to be thought of as someone who seems to go against “the system” and/or most authority figures and, in appearing so, becomes a sort of revered anti-hero by his peers. He will also begin to realize that even though his friend Jesse seems to want to help establish Nick as a cool kid, the reality is that Jesse weaves more outlandish lies about Nick and twists the truth far too often, which eventually backfires against them all. But most importantly, Nick will begin to understand why girls do nothing for him and how Bobby seems to be the only one who can make him feel content and happy.
Along the way Nick will experience horrendous loss that pushes him headlong into a deep depression that finally provokes a huge change in his life. By his side the entire time, Bobby will explore both drugs and sex with Nick, but most importantly is his lifeline on more than one occasion. Their love, while young, takes on huge importance for both boys as they desperately try to hide it from all their friends. Ultimately truth will always out—Nick will be found out as not some type of cool, system-bucking kid he has been built up as, but rather the normal, often confused, just “trying to make it through the day” teenager he truly is.
At times this novel was joyous in the discovery of a first love and that magical feeling of complete acceptance by another person and in other times this it just ripped your heart out of your chest with its incredible pathos, tragic overtones, and circumstances. But even in those dark passages, the author tries to weave in hope and solace. My only problem with this novel was, in fact, the epilogue. It was both abrupt and, while it tried to imply there might yet be a glimmer of hope, seemed rather bleak and final. Since this is a re-release of iner’s My Life As A Myth, it has been indicated that there may indeed be at least one sequel in the offing—that idea gives me real hope that somehow this rather sad ending will turn itself around. However, until then I encourage you to read this stunning novel with the full knowledge that there is not a true happy ever after moment at the end. Rather there is a small window of hope that indicates that all is not lost despite the finality of the circumstances both Bobby and Nick find themselves in. I particularly recommend this novel to parents or guardians of teens who are questioning or exploring their sexuality—it is a potent wake up call to the fact that the high school years are treacherous and the absolute best time to try and keep the lines of communication and unconditional love flowing in your home.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New to Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a fabulous prize from Riptide Publishing. One winner will win a set of Advanced Review Copies before the books are released (or if it is a non-U.S. winner, an electronic copy of the books upon release). Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a loaded Kindle fire filled with DSP books!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New to Me Author Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more details about the awesome prizes!