Hartinger, Brent. The Otto Digmore Difference (The Otto Digmore Series, Book 1). Seattle: BK Books, c2017. 215 p. $13.99. ISBN 13: 978-1542810333.
Hartinger, in addition to being a prolific author of young adult and adult novels, is also a screenwriter. His most famous novel, Geography Club, is now a feature film. He is married to Michael Jensen, author of Man and Monster, which I have also read and reviewed. This particular title is a delightful novel of gay friendship between two men who love each other but are no longer looking to share an intimate relationship (although Otto sometimes wishes otherwise).
Both Otto and his close friend Russel Middlebrook are living in Hollywood, trying to break into the film world. Otto aspires to be an actor. Russel aims to be a famous screenwriter. Otto gets cast in a so-so sitcom that is canceled after its first season. Suddenly, he gets a chance to star in a first-rate film. In order to meet with the famous Oscar-winning director, they must drive to San Diego and New Orleans. Most of the novel consists of the adventures on this road trip and their evolving relationship as friends. As the title of the novel suggest, Otto holds a difference. That “difference” is scars he received from a fire when he was seven years old.
Russel recently got married to his lover. Towards the end of the novel, Otto begins his own journey toward that possibility. That’s a new story, however, possibly to be explored in book two of the series.
Hartinger is an experienced writer who portrays all characters with lively dialogue and realistic soul-searching. I heartily recommend this book for collections and readers of modern gay novels, in this case focusing on an important gay relationship other than between lovers.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University