“Potluck” Review

(This review contains minor spoilers and mentions of assault. Read at your own discretion.)

Surprise! Have a second post this week!

It was a shock when I received an email from author Skot Harris’ asking me to review his book, Snapshots at the Fontaine Motel. So imagine my surprise when I received a Goodreads message from A.J. Colher a few months back asking the same for their book. And again, because I was swamped with university deadlines, I’ve only had time to read it recently. I will say that whilst it’s not a very long read (the copy I received was about 200 pages), it is not a ‘light’ read. It contains some strong depictions of drug, alcohol, and physical abuse as well as mental health, amongst other things. But it’s definitely worth your time.

Taken from the Goodreads page: Potluck tells the story of a study-mad Jesse Minkin, with dreams of one day going to Harvard and leaving his small town home. Nothing is more important to him than studying his butt off to achieve his goals. Everything else—from family, friends, and romance—is nothing more than just petty teenage drama to him. But after meeting the openly gay target of a violent hate crime, Jesse begins to see beyond his textbooks; perhaps there’s educational merit in petty teenage drama after all, and not all learning leads to Harvard.

I enjoyed the conversational, first person speak. I’ve not read or written anything in first person in years, so it was refreshing to read it again. It’s never easy writing in first person due to the narrow viewpoint—tunnel vision, if you will—of the protagonist and how everything is limited to how they think and feel. But there’s also a beauty in that it’s up to us to figure out what’s what and look beyond what we’re shown and told.

My favourite part (though it’s more a running theme than anything specific, per se) is how realistic everything is, particularly when anyone calls out Jesse’s asshole-ish behaviour. Sure, he excuses his behaviour and he conveniently has an explanation for everything, but in real life when someone’s being a dick, you point it out. Jesse’s and Jules’ character development contained some of my favourite moments as well, especially when Jules came to terms with how horrible his dad was.

Potluck is a lovely coming-of-age story with a compelling plot, sympathetic characters, and a hearty lesson throughout. It spans beyond living as a queer person in a small, Christian town and dissects the nitty gritty of relationships, abuse, and dreaming big. It took me a while to get fully hooked into the story, but I couldn’t put it down as soon as I was. Readers aren’t meant to fall behind everything Jesse Minkin says and thinks, but damn if I didn’t enjoy reading about them. Asshole or not, he was quite the protagonist. To quote the book: “fuck school, man; I’ve got learning to do.”

If you’ve made it this far into my post, thank you for reading! Have you read Potluck? If so, what did you think? If not, would you consider it? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you in my next post!

Until next time,
Dev.

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