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I Don't Get It
on June 2, 2012
**spoiler alert- This review contains lots of spoilers for this book** I feel somewhat in the minority here, I see 5 star after 5 star rating, and I just don't get it.
First off, I think the author would have been better served setting the book in England, and not Texas and New York. The terminology was just so British- the kerb, petrol, at hospital, and so much more, kept pulling me out of the story.
This was the story of Mike, a guy who was average in every way. He coasted by in school, coasted by with his friends, went out of his way to make his parents happy, and if his experiences with girls weren't out of this world, they were ok, so he coasted by there, too.
Then he lays eyes on new kid Jason. Jason caught his attention immediately. Jason with his long hair and his bad attitude. Mike doesn't quite know what it is about Jason, but he knows he has to get to know him. Then one day, he sees him getting into a car with a stranger, and learns that Jason and his friends often go off with strangers, trading sex for money.
Once Mike finds THAT out, it's all over. He figures he can try it out once, and get Jason out of his system finally. He chases after Jason and wears him down, promising 200 bucks (!) for a BJ in the back seat of his car.
Ahh! THAT'S what it's all about! At this point, Mike is totally obsessed. His every thought becomes about Jason, and how to get Jason to spend more time with him. And Jason totally takes advantage of Mike- making him pay to spend time with him, dragging him (and his hot car) out to chauffeur he and his stoner friends all over town, getting him to buy him things.
And Mike is so desperate for the time spent with Mike that he goes along with it all. It seems all his free time is spent either chasing Jason all over town, or trying to figure out how to get Jason to pay him some attention.
We see little glimmers that maybe Jason isn't so cold as he appears to Mike. He lets him tag along all over town, and eventually, the money exchange starts to blur into more letting Mike pay for everything and less of a cash for a$$ exchange. Once, he even buys Mike a ticket for a concert Of course it is likely with Mike's own money, and only because he needs Mike to drive him and his stoner friends to the show, which is three hours away.
And this is where the implausible stuff starts to come in. Mike spends all his savings, and finds the bank papers for his college fund, and forges his dad's name. His school work starts to suffer, he's spending money left and right, drains his college money from 3 grand down to around two hundred bucks over the course of 4 months, and no one notices? Apparently, this is one of those lucky kids whose bank doesn't send out monthly statements. In 1989 before everything goes digital. Ok, sure.
Then one day Mike's dad catches him, and it's all over. Dad can't stand to look at Mike anymore, and sends him away to stay with a business partner. No finishing his senior year, no graduation, nothing. I guess he finishes up his school work...well somehow, it's never explained. His dad's friend secures a boring job for him in the family firm, and so Mike spends the next year trudging along, waiting to be allowed to come home.
In yet another "yeah right" moment, his dad's friend Blake gets him a job in New York City. A brand new department, and Mike is going to be running it. Mike doesn't even know what the job IS, only that the salary is awesome and he gets a beautiful apartment he can afford, easy peasy.
Time passes, and it's been four years now since Mike left home. During all this time, we know Mike misses his family and wants to go home, but he doesn't really spend much time thinking about Jason, at least not as we are shown. Once he's been in NY for a year, he does seem to finally realize he's almost twenty now, he can do what he wants, so he calls Jason's house, only to find his aunt carried out on his promise to kick him out when he turned 18. So now Mike has no way to find Jason, so he just tells himself that Jason is happy, and pretty much moves on. He dates a woman for a year, leading her on, only to dump her when she starts mentioning marriage. He finally admits to himself that he is gay, and gets into the casual hookup thing. He makes friends, he is happy, if still a bit lonely.
And then his dad has a stroke, and he and his sister rush home. Being home is harder for Mike than he ever expected, too many ghosts. He sees Jason everywhere he looks, if only in his head. Finally, guilt overwhelms sister Alicia, and she admits to Mike that Jason tried to get in touch with him after he left, several times. He leaves his address where he'll be living, a letter asking where he is, when he's coming home. He even returns all the money Mike had given him. Alicia feels guilty, but Mike is horrified. He could have had Jason with him all this time?
He manages to find him, only now he is a homeless drug addict. And in another moment of WTF, Mike manages to get him admitted to a sanitarium, with just the lie that he's a cousin, and some cash.
Then we are treated to a sweet little HEA, but we are left with so many unanswered questions. Mostly about Jason. Why he's the way he is. Why Mike is so in love with him. Because really, while I liked Jason myself, I didn't see anything about him that was worthy of Mike's devotion(obsession). He was rude, he was a user. And we never really find out WHY. Truth be told, we don't know ANYTHING about Jason. All we know is he's a punk, he apparently sells himself for money (we never learn why that either. drug money?) I wasn't even sure if Jason was gay, gay for pay, or bi. He seems to have girls and guy following him around. How far did his sex trades go- just a BJ in the car, or the full deal? We are never told that either. We are never told what his issues are. How he spiraled down from a stoner to full out homeless junkie in 4 years. He was as much of enigma at the end of the story as he was at the beginning.
At the end, I felt this was a well written story with a lot of implausibilities, but it did keep me engrossed enough to read to the end, only to be left feeling unsatisfied, because none of the questions I had in my head about Jason were answered.