Collide, by J.R. Lenk
A young writer scores with a mature story of high school love.
Story blurb: Being bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all.
For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.
About the author:If E. L. Doctorow was on point when he said, “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia,” at just nineteen J. R. Lenk is a self-confessed pretty boy severely in need of a psychological once-over. He’s a sucker for overcast skies and the smell of books, and enjoys a lot of things from movies about castrati to classy sweaters and wayward glances, to successful sex hair and hobo chic.
J. R. Lenk has been writing as a passion since a very young age, with a love for horror, ghost stories, and dark edgy contemporaries. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.
you are the master of your own genius.
Review by Gerry Burnie
High school genres are not my favourite. However, when Collide by J. R. Lenk [Harmony Ink Press, April 15, 2012] was recommended to me with high praise, I decided to give it a read.
One of the things said about this book was the amazing fact that the writer is still in his teens. Remarkable. Oh, there is the odd misstep – like a long, disconcerting flashback in the middle of the story – but otherwise the plot and character development, as well as the writing in general, are all at an advanced level.
The story is primarily told from the perspective of Hazard Oscar James, a Cinderella-like character at first, until he ‘collides’ – literally –with Jesse Logan Wesley: a rich-kid-BMC (‘ Big Man on Campus’ ) who is Hazard’s flawed Prince Charming.
Theirs is set against a backdrop of high school, juvenile intensity (likes, dislikes, jealousies, wild parties and booze, etc.), somewhat reminiscent of the high school flicks of the 60s. Nonetheless, it is all presented very convincingly – at least I think it is. Mind you, I haven’t been inside a high school for 62 years, so I’m a bit outdated.
Where the novel really shines, however, is in the rocky road to romance experienced by Hazard and Jesse. It is one of the best work-ups I have read. No ‘insta-love’ here. Their romance is like climbing a staircase, one step forward and two steps back, but inevitably it blossoms into a mature bonding. It is beautifully developed and written, with all of the nuances of boy-meets-boy love intact.
This is a really good story for any age, and well worth the money. Four Bees.
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