Title: The Importance of Being Kevin
Author: Steven Harper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Genre(s): Murder/Mystery, YA Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 222
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 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.
I wasn’t familiar with Steven Harper prior to reading “The Importance of Being Kevin” but he is definitely on my radar now. Harper has crafted a young adult novel that should be near the top of your “To Read” list.
16-year-old Kevin auditions for a community play (“The Importance of Being Earnest”) to avoid juvie and finds his passion – both for theater and for his gorgeous co-star Peter Finn, who is 19. Acting allows Kevin to pull on the personae of Algernon (Algy) and escape his trailer park life with an ex-con father. Peter is “nice and freakin’ amazing” and wonder of all wonders, likes Kevin and thinks he’s talented and smart. Harper really gives us a sweet insight into these two boys who are smitten with one another and their conversations and internal dialogue feel true.
They are freshly minted boyfriends when Kevin is brutally attacked and Peter finds himself accused of murder. The author manages to give us a murder mystery, a coming out story, Peter’s family drama with his perfectly horrid mother, and a group of teenagers learning the joy and community of a theatre family without seeming overly angsty or melodramatic. And the way Harper weaves Kevin’s understanding of the actions that brought him to the brink of juvie is beautifully nuanced.
Harper also knows how to turn a memorable phrase, such as “The applause ran and ran and ran. It was a sunlight river overflowing its banks. It was liquid diamonds and drinkable laughter.” Kevin describes Peter’s home as “a church married to a skyscraper.” And in finding out Peter is Bruce Wayne billionaire rich, he ponders “It was like learning your favorite stuffed animal was a one-of-a-kind collector’s item or that the bike you bought at a police auction and usually left in the rain was a custom race job built in Holland.”
“The Importance of Being Kevin” weaves together a complex array of plot points and gives us a story that is equal parts gut wrenching, life affirming and incredibly moving. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 stars.
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