Audio Review: Brent Hartinger – The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know

51eyuo1ylylAuthor: Brent Hartinger
Reviewer: Asabat
Publisher: Audible Studios
Genre: MM Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Narrator: Josh Hurley


“I guess this was what they meant by a loss of innocence. Who knew?”

Russel Middlebrook is twenty-three years old, gay, and living in trendy Seattle, but life isn’t keeping up with the hype. Most of his friends have a direction in life—either ruthlessly pursuing their careers or passionately embracing their own aimlessness. But Russel is stuck in place. All he knows is that crappy jobs, horrible dates, and pointless hook-ups just aren’t cutting it anymore.

What’s the secret? What does everyone else know that he doesn’t?

Enter Kevin, Russel’s perfect high school boyfriend. Could rekindling an old flame be the thing Russel needs to get his life back on track? Or maybe the answer lies in a new friend, an eccentric screenwriter named Vernie Rose, who seems plenty wise. Or what the hell? Maybe Russel will find some answers by joining his best friend Gunnar’s crazy search for the legendary Bigfoot!

One way or another, Russel is determined to learn the all-important secret to life, even if it’s a thing he doesn’t even know he doesn’t know.


Over the past two or three years, I’ve listened to some fabulous audiobooks from Audible Studios. Brent Hartinger’s The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t know is no exception; in fact, this novel will go down as one of my favorite audiobooks of 2016.

I always read or listen to a novel twice before writing a review. I went back to the beginning of this novel immediately after listening to it from beginning to end. (It sometimes takes me weeks or months to get to that second reading/listening before writing my review.) What most impressed me during my second listen was Brent Hartinger’s clean, colorful mastery of young and senior speech patterns. I was as entertained throughout the second run as I was during the first.

Brent Hartinger has honed his writing craft to a fine edge; throughout, he paints vivid pictures of his characters, scenes, and Seattle settings, using a minimal number of words. The pacing is comfortably steady, the plot unfolds gracefully, narratives and dialogues are pitch perfect, and thank all the gods and the Seven Dwarfs, there’s no angst. The narrator performed wonderfully, capturing the voices of young men and women in their early to mid-twenties, as well as characters in their sixties. I always knew who was speaking with or without tag lines.

This is Book One of The Russel Middlebrook series: The Futon Years. I’ll be watching for book two.

The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know is a loss of innocence tale that rings true to the feelings of uncertainty most people experience in their early adult years. This novel is uplifting, humorous, sad, and above all, compelling from the first line to the last. One additional comment: Brent Hartinger knew when to “fade to black.” This one comes highly recommended.



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