Title: The Importance of Being Kevin
Author: Steven Harper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Genre(s): Young Romance, Coming Out, Mystery
Page Count: 222
Reviewed by: Bob-O-Link
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Kevin Devereaux’s life can’t get worse. He’s on probation. He’s stuck with an unemployed ex-convict dad. And he lives in a run-down trailer on the crappy east side of town. To keep his probation officer happy, Kevin joins a theater program for teenagers and falls hard for Peter Finn, the lead actor in the show—and the son of the town’s leading family. Despite their differences, Peter returns Kevin’s feelings, and for the first time, Kevin learns what it means to be in love.
But Peter’s family won’t accept a gay son—let alone a boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks—and in their conservative town, they must keep the romance secret. Still, they have the play, and they have each other, so they’ll get by—
Until a brutal attack shatters Kevin’s life and puts Peter in danger of going to jail for murder.
Warning! Don’t be distracted by the all following: this reviewer really likes this book.
Now, I beg your pardon, but, as though we’re pseudo-intellectuals, let’s first start with a
“Conceit is an artistic effect or device: i.e., the director’s brilliant conceit was to film this tale in black and white.” [The New Oxford American Dictionary – thank you, Kindle.]
Steven Harper’s The Importance of Being Kevin, engages us with several conceits. First
conceit: Our heroes are brought together, rehearsing an amateur production of Oscar
Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Mr Harper cleverly heads the novel’s
chapters as seriatic acts and scenes of a play, aiding in focusing us on the theatric /
dramatic structure of the story.
Second conceit: He, most cleverly, has used those rehearsals as a vehicle for juxtaposing
apt quotes from Wilde’s play into the flow of the book’s fast moving plot, metaphorically
either representing or contrasting them with the story’s action.
Third conceit: Our main characters are normal hormonal adolescents of 16 and 19 years of
age. They are very attracted to each other, and seem to have no moral reservations against
taking their relationship to a more sexually physical level. Nonetheless, sex between them
is almost nonexistent and thus they become mere fantasies of 21st century youth. This
novel well combines a mystery tale with the story of the maturation of two young men. At
the same time, we’re invited to examine the angst of experiencing a coming out into our
new gay world.
Remember when authors really knew how to turn a phrase? Mr Harper still can. Read on.
“Lush trees stood around like giants having tea.”
“The river flowed like a silver snake under the gleaming stars.”
“Shiny hardwood floors and high, airy ceilings, white walls and alcoves and staircases, tall
windows and stained glass – a church married to a skyscraper.”
“Whatever’s eating her got diarrhea.”
“I was wearing a hospital gown, which was basically a pillowcase tied around my neck.”
Need one more selling point? The final conceit should be Mr Harper’s for a really good