Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: That Doesn’t Belong Here
AUTHOR: Dan Ackerman
PUBLISHER: Supposed Crimes
LENGTH: 170 Pages
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2017
That Doesn’t Belong Here begins when Levi and his friend Emily discover an impossible creature in an abandoned pick up. The thing is wounded, frightened and the two friends cannot leave him to the mercy of rubberneckers and tourists. This novel explores what it means to be a person, as the creature, Kato, begins to display not mere intelligence or friendliness but what can only be explained as humanity. The question of who we are allowed to love arises for Levi and Kato, as they are not just crossing the boundaries of gender or sexuality, but of species.
Every now and again, you stumble across a book that is completely different from your standard reading preferences. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you really don’t, but That Doesn’t Belong Here most definitely falls into that first category.
Levi and Emily are best friends who live together in the summer home of Emily’s ridiculously rich parents. One very early morning while strolling the beach, the two friends spot a submerged truck with a wounded creature trapped in the back seat. There is only one word they can possibly use to label what they rescued – merman. Coincidently, Emily happens to have a private and secluded beach on her property where they can take the merman to recover from the injuries that make it impossible to swim. As the merman heals, Emily and Levi become friends with the creature, who identifies himself as Kato.
The characters in this story were all kinds of wonderful.
“Good Jewish boys from Long Island did not move to California to study Art History and find mythical creatures while watching the sunrise with a lesbian.”
Except in this book they do, and what I think I marveled over the most was that the way the author wrote the characters and the situation, this merman tale seemed actually, possibly, realistic. There was no growing legs, the merman didn’t naturally speak English, and Levi and Kato were not fated mates. Instead Levi was a closeted, chubby pansexual, Emily was the big bottomed lesbian with the autistic girlfriend and Kato was an apparently foulmouthed gay merman who could flip people off despite his webbed fingers and made obscene gestures with his tongue. While I enjoyed the rather simple, yet perfect plot it was the characters that made this story so memorable. The banter between all of them, especially Emily and Levi, was so well done that I wanted to meet these people. I wanted to be their friend too. I think I could have easily read an entire book of dialogue between Levi and his bestie.
“What’s a little mermaid dick between friends?”
“If he was a mermaid, he wouldn’t have a dick.”
“That’s not very trans-inclusive of you.”
As to the romance between Levi and Kato, again somehow the author made their relationship seem entirely possible while setting the story in the “real world”. The way the two men learned how things between them would work was adorable and a little bit hilarious. The trials of the last third of the book, while separating the men made the ending that much sweeter. In fact it helped cement their relationship and made Levi realize what was important.
If I had any complaint about this book? I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more and I’ll surely be checking out more from this author in the future.