“Broken dreams are not the end of the road. They are the beginning of new dreams and a new direction in life.” ~ Unknown
Following the advice of a friend, Russel, of 'Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams’ by Brent Hartinger, moves to Los Angeles—“the place to be” in the screenwriter profession. Kevin, his boyfriend, goes lovingly but reluctantly along with him, and takes a job which is less than desirable, particularly after leaving a successful position behind, while Russel stays at home and writes. When Russel appears to have landed a movie making deal, Kevin tries to warn him with the old adage, “if something seems too good be true, it usually is”, but Russel isn't listening.
Russel is thrilled when he's approached by a formerly famous movie producer and upset when everyone, particularly Kevin, is not as encouraging as Russel wishes they would be. At first, Russel tries to fit in, getting advice from Otto, an actor and ex-boyfriend about everything from how to act to which type of shoes to wear. Otto hasn't found his acting niche yet, but Russel tries to encourage him saying it will come. It seems everyone around him is struggling in their efforts to be successful in fulfilling their dream. Unfortunately, it's a tough job in what turns out to be a cut-throat, ruthless environment. No matter how hard you try, making it big is nearly impossible. Russel tells himself that maybe, just maybe, he's going to be one of the lucky ones who actually do. He refuses to believe what everyone keeps trying to tell him; everybody lies in this town.
When Russel first comes to Los Angeles, he is determined to keep his integrity and not become one of those sad people who will do or say anything to get what they desire. Unfortunately, the longer Russel is there, the more he tries to emulate those around him. Russel gets lost in the prospect of having to do this to get ahead and with the carrot of a movie deal tantalizing him. Russell feels that everyone, instead of encouraging him, is raining on his parade. Russel agonizes over whether what he's doing is right and the importance of it all, oblivious to the collateral damage around him. When the reality of the situation comes to a head, he has a choice to make: is it important to have what he wants at all costs, or should he face the fact that what he has now is maybe more valuable in the long run.
This book has its amusing moments, but the theme is definitely more serious than the first story in the series. I empathized with the characters' heavy, sometimes heart-breaking discouragement. I felt myself feeling discouraged as well. When Russel is in danger of being sucked into the “vacuum of failure”, I wanted to scream at him to come down to reality and stop living in a dream that is more like a poisonous cloud, worse than the smog or horrendous traffic. But, as with all young people, Russel has to come to his own conclusions before he can take a step, ideally, toward maturity and set things right. If you like stories with a message which is prevalent but not overbearing, quirky, eccentric characters, humor, and a happy ending, then you may enjoy this book. Thanks, Brent, for giving us another glimpse into Russel's life and a promise of more to come.