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'The Suicidal Peanut' by Matthew Metzger

The Suicidal Peanut - Matthew J. Metzger

“Never assume the obvious is true.” ~ William Safire

Tab's life is complicated. He never knew his father. His mother is a free spirit who has completely lost touch with reality and is in a hospital, most likely for life. He lives with his Uncle Eddie who is gay and JuliKate, who used to be Uncle Julius but is now transitioning to Aunt Kate. Tab works at Eddie's boxing club and has a mad crush on Nick, one of the student boxers. Tab is gay, but has never had a boyfriend. He's convinced that Nick is straight, so choses to worship him from afar. Tab doesn't want to admit it and possibly get punched in the face or worse, but it doesn't stop him from dreaming about what would happen if Nick weren't straight.

Tab attends an art college and is currently stressing over his latest art assignment, creating a portraiture of someone. Tab hates drawing people, preferring cartoons instead. His friend, Maxi, latched on to him the first day of school and hasn't let go since. Tab likes Maxi, but she can be a bit overbearing at times. Her latest “project” is to get Tab together with her twin brother, Demi, who just happens to have a boyfriend. Against his better judgment, Tab and Demi start texting and become good friends although they have never met. Tab likes Demi a lot, but even when Demi's “bad boyfriend” breaks up with him, Tab can't make the jump from friends to something more; he's still trying to figure out his feelings for Nick who is oblivious to Tab's feelings.

Tab decides to use Nick as his subject for the portraiture assignment, without his permission. Tab finally has to break down and tell Nick what he is doing because he needs a photograph of him. Tab gets to know Nick better but is still convinced he's straight and continues to keep his feelings to himself. When Nick defends him against another boxer who throws a homophobic slur at Tab, which embarrasses and exhilarates him at the same time, it makes Tab feel a bit better by knowing Nick at least tolerates gays. Tab isn't hiding his crush quite as well as he thinks. Uncle Eddie sees it and encourages Tab to go for it, but telling him that Nick is not going to be able to take hints. He is going to have to tell him directly or Nick won't ever catch on. Tab is shy and is still convinced Nick is straight and his affections would not be welcomed. Tab's feelings for Demi are confusing him although he's always been honest with him. Tab, being the nice guy he is, doesn't want to lead Demi on even though he knows about Tab's feelings for Nick. Demi's understanding makes Tab wonder if he shouldn't try to get over his crush on Nick and go for Demi. When he and Nick become closer, Tab even talks to Nick about having two guys in his life but not being able to make a choice. Nick listens and is sympathetic, but doesn't have an answer for Tab. As far as he sees it, there is no apparent way out of his dilemma.

When I first read the title I was amused, but when I saw that Matthew had written it and that it was a comedy, I knew I wanted to read it. Previously, Matthew's work has been impressive, with great writing skills and his knack for displaying intense emotion, but his books have also been serious and often sad. This book is different, but every bit as good. Matthew has easily bridged the genre gap, displaying his versatility. Matthew's ability to write a story which is hilarious at times, yet also having a serious and emotional side mixed in is exceptional. Tab's running dialogue with himself is often beyond funny and his view of the world, no doubt influenced by his “flower child” mom, is unique and poignant. Tab is a very special character whom I'd love to see again. What about it, Matthew? You've proven how good you are at comedy. Why not write a sequel? Even though technically a Young Adult book, I believe grown-ups will love the delightful, endearing characters and the funny, enlightening, sad, and typically teen attitudes. I highly recommend it for any of you who wish to be thoroughly entertained and amused. Thank you, Matthew, for your talent, cheek, and wit in creating such a gratifying literary experience.



Source: http://www.rainbowbookreviews.com/book-reviews/the-suicidal-peanut-by-matthew-j-metzger-at-queerteen-press