CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2006.
198 pp., pbk., $13.95.
Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.
Review by Jen Waters.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
So I offered up a prayer. Dear God, I said to myself, please forgive my friend for his trivial sin and let him go back to the righteous, guilt-free life he ordinarily lives. He's a decent guy and he deserves a break. That was pretty much my only request on the issue, so I opened my eye only to find Kirk still lost in prayer.
I closed that eye and decided to keep going. Since I was asking God on Kirk's behalf, maybe I should ask something for me, too. Dear God, I went on, please let me succeed in my simple and admittedly mundane goals, because not all of us are as lofty as your servant Kirk. Please let Shauna forgive me, despite my mismatched socks and repulsive body, and let her change her mind once again so that your servant, Al, who has spent so many years trying to get laid, can finally succeed in his quest.
"Thank you", Kirk said when I opened my eyes this time. "Prayer is a wonderful thing."
"Let us hope," I sighed. "Let us hope."
Al is your typical university freshman: away from home for the first time, overwhelmed with a new way of life, and obsessed with members of the opposite sex. This tall, awkward 18-year-old, the protagonist of Paul Kropp's follow-up to 2005's similarly sex-obsessed Running the Bases, has recently moved from small town Manitoba to Vancouver to attend the fictional Burrard University. In the summer following high school graduation, Al and Maggie (Al's dating advisor and eventual girlfriend from the earlier novel) decided to go their separate ways both in the relationship and schools of choice. Sadly for Al, he was not able to do the deed with Maggie, and now he feels even more determined to have sex while at university.
In an ironic twist of fate, his roommate is Kirk Chamberlain, a surprisingly sexy and charming Theology student who has signed an abstinence pledge to a life of purity (no corrupt images and no sex before marriage). He has come to Vancouver to study so he can "learn about the devil where he lives." For Al, with Maxim magazines and condoms under his bed and enough dirty thoughts for the both of them, Kirk's way of life is a little difficult for him to understand. When Kirk asks Al his goals for the year, Al replies "Mostly, I think, I just want to get laid." At least he's honest about it.
Despite setting his goals rather low, Al has the worst luck in his sexual exploits: nothing good comes from his adventures with a college tease, an older woman with a nasty ex-husband and two kids, or his roommate's younger sister. Even his spring break in Puerto Vallarta only lands him with a cute short girl who drunkenly vomits all over him. Al returns homes for the summer and, after reading some of his newly written poems (his latest strategy for getting girls) aloud, wins over the heart and naughtier bits of ex-girlfriend Maggie in the final pages of the novel.
While able to breathe a sigh of relief for Al, I was also a little disappointed with the novel's ending as the amusing sexual tension which had fueled the story was now gone. One can only imagine what any future Al Macklin novels written by Paul Kropp will be like.
As with Running the Bases, it goes without saying that many parents, teachers and librarians will also be turned off by the sexual content of Home Run. However, if they are able to put that fact aside, they will see what a well-written and sympathetic character Kropp has created. After all, what teenage boy is not obsessed with sex? Kudos to Kropp for admitting it and writing about it in such an honest manner. I can think of any number of older teens and young men in their early twenties who will identify with Al and his primal urges.
Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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