Summary: Ethan is a levelheaded, some might say ‘antisocial’, young artist-entrepreneur with a love for quirky taxidermy. He is close to graduating high school and at a crossroads. All he wants is to develop his business further, yet all his parents want is for him to go to law school. That is more than enough problems for Ethan, so any kind of love life is off his agenda. That is until Robert Hunter, the quarterback of the football team, comes crashing into him. Literally.
Robert drifts along in high school. He has good grades, he’s getting ready for med school, he’s even leaving potentially problematic dating until college. He’s gay, not ashamed of it, but he doesn’t want to stir up any trouble. His carefully laid plans might just go completely off the rails though, when he drinks too much at a party and causes irreversible damage to Ethan, the school’s weirdo.
Robert has to face the fact that maybe he isn’t the good guy he always considered himself to be. And maybe he doesn’t want to go to med school. And maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t actually want to wait with dating until college.
Review: Ethan is an odd guy. He’s bright and quiet, and reasonably attractive, but he’s bit goth and his hobby of taxidermy kinda freaks people out. He’s convinced that he’s got what it takes to pursue a career in art, but his parents (both lawyers) foresee a law school in his future.
Robert is the golden boy. A good student and athlete but with a hidden interest… I meant cooking!, but your first guess was right too. He’s interested in guys but he’s resolved to NOT have a boyfriend in high-school or suffer the pangs of coming out in such a judgmental environment.
When some teasing at a party goes horribly wrong and Ethan is injured, Robert is convinced he’s at fault and is desperate to keep yet another secret.
This is a strange book and it’s tale is kinda embodied in the character of Ethan, the taxidermist of the title. There’s really a lot of sweetness and charm inside an exterior that’s initially off-putting. What I found most intriguing was how the wrong-doing was so quickly distributed. Both MC’s yield temporarily to their baser instincts and both must find their way back to a sort of redemption. And as with real-world redemption, the end result is not a shiny new soul as is so often promised by organized religions but a sadder but wiser character, that is perhaps more tolerant of the shortcomings of others as well.
Yes, this is a MM romance (and as the authors say, more new adult than young adult) but there is also some deeper meaning here as well. There are also some things here to object to as well… some very two dimensional parent figures, a non-consensual sexual situation, and a curious but possibly correct questioning of the value of a college education. Also there is the whole question of taxidermy as an acceptable art form. But then, I aspire to be one of those sadder but wiser adults and hopefully can find meaning and value in things even when I don’t agree with all that I encounter.
By all means, I’d recommend this book. Like one of its MC’s Ethan, it deserves more attention (and acceptance) than it’s gotten.
Oddly: Unlike so much of today’s self-published fiction, this tale is strictly third person (and fairly well written and edited) so the title is a bit wrong in the sense that it’s not really a diary. This note is not a criticism, but more an attempt to set the record straight so as to not allow this book (like it’s MC, Ethan) to undersell itself.