A Beatles fanatic and college sophomore gets himself in a twist when he tries to mix forever love with an education, though, by the end of the story, he claims that “…I got the best education one can get. An education in the geography of the human heart.”
At the beginning, narrator Colin Preston’s got it made: Football hero Karl is his best friend and Jasmine, an enchanting California coed, his girl. In a plot that will surprise no one, best friend and girl get together when Colin becomes too needy and dependent. School work, naturally, is forgotten. And soon, warnings from the Dean follow.
In many respects, Colin could be a typical teen … of 1985. He fantasizes about sex – and practices it. He puts all thoughts of future aside, except a fleeting interest in drama. His parents’ advice often irritates and occasionally angers. And his ego, though more empathetic than most, takes center stage when he obsesses about his love life. [The only missing contemporary element is a heavy-duty reliance on smartphones and social media.]
He starts an on-off relationship with Chester, a dorm basement resident who’s obviously crying out for help: Dressing up as Napoleon (and writing a play about his stay on Elba), obsessing about a co-ed, and dabbling in psychedelic drugs lands him in a psychiatric institution by the end of the book.
The fast-read dialogue is authentic. Yet, even the minor characters need a bit more development: Professor Maria Vesquez attempts to reach out to Colin, with talk of poetry and heartache. By the end, Big Ty, the frat guy, begins to become more human in his interactions. The real question: Will Colin ever graduate?
A Hero falls quickly and learns slowly in a coming-of-age story that hasn’t aged well.
Reviewed by Barbara Jacobs for IndieReader