Reviewed by Lillet Williams
TAGS: Preston L. Allen, Akashic Books
Every Boy Should Have a Man gives an alternate, almost fantasylike view of mankind: not as the Oafs, the superior species of earth which is very similar to humans, but rather secondary – as pets and, in some instances, food. A boy finds a man wandering in the park and he takes him home in hopes that he can hide him long enough to convince his parents to let him keep the man. But this was no ordinary stray man: he could talk and soon the rightful owner claimed the man and took him home. The boy’s father, seeing how attached he had become to the man, bought a red-haired female man for him. The story follows the awkwardness and adventures the boy encounters being from a poor family, yet having a pet that is more common among the wealthy. The man pets in general seem to be more mentally evolved than what Oafs believe and as a result Red Sleeves, the boys female man pet, gets into trouble a few times. The story eventually takes an even more interesting turn as it follows the adventures of the female man, who is now fully grown, and not the boy who owns it, who is a teenager still.
The story was intriguing from the very beginning because once the reader realized that the book was talking about human beings as pets, you want to keep reading just to figure out what or who the primary character beings were. Sadly, readers did not find out what or who an Oaf was until nearly the end of the book, or the specific differences between humans and Oafs; by then, the reader had already drawn certain conclusions and made certain assumptions which would then require a mental replay of certain scenes which suddenly made sense, or were suddenly utterly absurd. In contrast, the author was very descriptive of the land and earth and features of the human faces and skin tones.
Once the story went beyond the boy and his family in the small village and followed the female man’s adventures in the mines and in war with more oafs, it began to resemble familiar stories and fables such as Jack and the Beanstalk. In fact, this exactimagery was brought to mind and it put the species differences into perspective. At that point the story became weird yet predictable, in a sense that everything totally changed now that you had better frames of reference and time. The one theme that resonated throughout the book was that of being kinder and gentler to the earth and natural resources, to be better stewards of the earth and to not abuse the earth in that everything must coexist in order for everything to thrive and survive. There were several short epilogues after the actual end of the book that helped bring everything in the story full circle, and caused the reader to rethink the origins of earth and the familiar fables, especially the story of David and Goliath.
This book is definitely recommended for those who like to think outside the box. It was a good read that kept one interested and encourages attention to detail. The lack of physical description and character backstory in the first half of the book was disappointing and confusing, as it causes a reader to wonder what was so important about the story, when there was no clear idea of what the author meant to convey. Bu the time enough information was revealed, a reader would have almost forgotten what was not known. Mr. Allen’s goal in revealing things later was understandable, yet a bit more information was needed for the ending to have the intended full impact it needed. The epilogues rescued the story and really helped bring about closure and somewhat of an explanation that helped the reader draw conclusions to help it make sense.
Lillet Williams, MBA has worked in the mental health field as an administrator for over 15 years. She currently lives in Maryland with her almost 12 year-old son, is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., and is working on another master’s degree in Human Resources Management. She enjoys traveling, reading, and science fiction movies.