Audio Review: TJ Klune – How To Be a Normal Person

HowtobeaNormalPersonAUDAuthor: TJ Klune
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: MM Audio

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Narrator: Derrick McClain


Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?
It’s quite evident that this story came from the very fertile imagination of TJ Klune, however this one isn’t as fast-paced, or as manic, so-to-speak, as some of the others he’s written. And that’s a good thing. It suits the MCs very well and made the story funny, interesting, sweet, and engaging.

Gustavo Tiberius is a pretty sedate, even-tempered, oddball of a guy, and his fated soulmate, Casey, is an asexual hipster stoner with an attitude so laid back he likely never reaches vertical. But together, they’re the perfect mix.

Gustavo has been on his own ever since his father, Pastor Tommy, died a few years ago. Living quietly with his ferret, Harry S. Truman, for company, Gustavo reads encyclopedias as his form of entertainment. TV or the Internet? Who needs them? Not Gustavo who owns a video store in the tiny town of Abbey, Oregon. He also happens to own most of the buildings in the downtown area, so he doesn’t need to worry whether or not the handful of video customers who come in will be enough to support him financially.

Among the characters in this little town are a few women who adore him, and who he might secretly admit, he adores too. These include Lottie, who owns the coffee and sandwich shop next door, and the Three Queens – a trio of Vespa-riding old women, complete with silver hair and pink leather jackets. These women care about him and make him use a daily motivational calendar from which he has to recite the quote each day as they come in to rent a video.

One day, instead of seeing Lottie when he stops in for his morning cup of coffee, Gustavo is shocked to discover a gorgeous blond hipster behind the counter. Lottie’s nephew Casey is visiting from California. They’re instantly drawn to each other, but Gustavo has no idea of what to do about that, and when later that week, he overhears Casey telling his aunt that Gustavo isn’t normal, he rushes home to hide. And then he buys the Internet for research since his encyclopedia is outdated and has no information on how to be a normal person. The vignettes between Gustavo and the customer service reps of the cable company are totally campy and ridiculous, but as funny as anything I’ve ever read or heard—mainly because they could so easily be true!

Derrick McClain does an outstanding job of narrating this tale and gives Gus, aka Grumpy Gus, the perfect intonation to suit his personality, but it’s the voice he gives Casey that carries the whole story, IMHO. If I ever imagined what the voice of a stoned hipster might be, the voice Derrick uses for Casey is ten times better. Priceless!

As the two navigate the waters of a potential relationship, and Gus discovers more about what it means to be asexual and how it might affect his time with Casey, Casey’s best friends show up, ostensibly to visit. In reality, they’ve come to give Gus the third degree and make sure he’s good enough for Casey. They’re very protective of him, but not quite as protective as Lottie and the three queens are of Gus. Misunderstandings and hilarity are the name of the game for all, except Gus and Casey who speak their own language—the language of love.

This is a funny, sweet MM romance, with emphasis on the romance. There’s no sex, explicit or implied, but there is love, and not only the love between Gus and Casey which blossoms slowly, but through flashbacks of times with his father before he died of cancer, we come to know Gus and what makes him tick, and we see the love of a father for his son in the memories Gus recalls. It’s a beautiful and unique love story, and I highly recommend it in the audiobook format.



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