Mercurial Avenue, $4.99
Contemporary Romance, 2012
I am not familiar with Todd Young, as, let’s face it, there are many authors who go the indie route these days and I would need to hire a contingent of hot young guys to help me keep track of them all. When I bought Jumbo, all I knew was that the author claimed to write naughty stories. And that was why I picked this story up – the hero Mitchell has a tiny pee-pee and I’m curious as to how the author would pull this one off.
If some folks use the phrase “husband-sized pee-pee” to describe a pee-pee that is, uh, on the very ordinary side, I guess Mitchell has a “fiancé-sized pee-pee” then? He’s on the swim team, and it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t pack his trunks too well. He stuffs his jock straps with a roll of sock, but we all know his secret is going to be found out, and we all know how cruel kids can be. It also doesn’t help that Mitchell is gay and his parents are divorcing. Oh, and he’s in love with his best friend. The poor guy just can’t catch a break, I tell you.
Don’t worry, there is a romantic subplot here to provide some much-needed respite from the whole “my pee-pee is called Carrie” drama, so everything here isn’t pure teen angst. Do also take note that while the kids here are around eighteen, there are explicit sexual scenes here, so this isn’t some happy teen story for the whole family.
Now, at an intellectual level, the story doesn’t work completely for me. The romance subplot is actually the weakest element here, as it is made up of pretty much every “the jock and me” trope in the locker room closet. Up to that point, the story is actually pretty engaging. Yes, the teen angst is far more interesting, I find, than the romance. It’s like a John Hughes movie – I have more fun when the main character isn’t. It also doesn’t help that we have 18-year old kids infatuated with one another. Maybe I’m just an old bat, but honestly, is there a point in even rooting for these two when they would just break up after Mitchell heads off to college? The romance is also quite improbable, although in a way, that’s fine, as “romances” when one is a teen tend to be more self-serving than anything else. Therefore, chemistry is secondary to the urge to just shag like nobody’s business. Still, it’s quite disappointing that the romance ends up being all about “big is better” when I’d expect the story to be a little more democratic when it comes to pee-pee size.
On a visceral level, however, Jumbo is an enjoyable read. The author has an engaging narrative voice, and the story can go from cynical to downright filthy without missing a beat. Mitchell’s fears and insecurities feel very real here, and I can’t help but to feel for him. The author captures the terror of a gay kid being in love very well here – one wrong step could mean complete social ruination in the toxic high school atmosphere, and poor Mitchell is torn between clinging to his unhappy status quo or taking a big risk and gamble on finding some brief moments of happiness that may or may not be real.
Jumbo can be an inconsistent mess at times, but on a fundamental level, it’s a very engaging and sometimes heartbreaking tale of teen angst, which is amplified far more than usual when the teen in question is not only gay but also suffers from self-esteem issues stemming from a much smaller than average pee-pee. I’m sold. One thing’s for sure: I’m interested in reading more from this author.