Reviewed by Becca
TITLE: Oscar Down Under: Part One
AUTHOR: Jack Ladd
LENGTH: 211 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 23, 2017
Best Debut Fiction, Oscar Down Under: Part One, is a contemporary erotic tale of self-discovery teaching us how miserable life can be when we are selfish and self-centred, and how fulfilling it becomes when we open our hearts and minds.
Once a jaded user of people and substances, Oscar is now a handsome and successful thirty-something in love. But before he can commit to his new man, he’s forced to reflect on his troubled past, and figure out if he’s truly changed from the manipulative, damaged boy he once was.
This is where we meet Oscar, fourteen years earlier at twenty-one, with a bad reputation and worse proclivity for lying to others and himself. One hungover Saturday morning trawling through Grindr he meets David, a tall, handsome Aussie living in London who, with the right coercion, offers him far more than the free meal he’d hoped for.
But, he soon finds out that travelling to the other side of the planet, to sunny, scorching Sydney, isn’t enough to escape his demons. And, by telling his greatest lie to date, he learns the toughest but most valuable lesson of his life.
Set across London, Edinburgh and Sydney, ODU#1, is a lush, sensory experience exploring the intrinsic need we all feel to grow and learn, and how no matter what we’ve done or has happened to us, it’s never too late to change.
Based on true events.
This has been almost one of the most impossible books for me to review. Being based on true event makes it harder. I read the first book, Oscar, right before this so I had some idea of what was going on. The truth is the book is so sad to me. It’s full of heartbreak, manipulation, lying, cheating, abuse, drugs, and the list goes on. Oscar had a very hard life. And I empathize with him on so many levels going through my own abuse and wild days. I guess it reminded me of my own past to a point. Some of it though, just….i don’t know. It was so much. But I guess when you want to self destruct that’s what happens.
Oscar had so many things happen to him it was ridiculous. From his mom leaving, to his dad being non existent and abusive when he was. To being beaten almost to death for being outed as gay, and so much more. He hid behind a shell of himself. Determined no one would get close again. So he lied. About almost everything. He did drugs like crazy, slept with almost anything that moved (as long as it was a guy), and barely made it out of school and University. He has a dead end job, a shitty apartment and life seems to be going nowhere. Til one day after a rough night, he meets a man on Grindr who ends up with a proposition for him. Be his fake boyfriend to show off for his ex and do it in Australia. Oscar jumps at the chance, thinking this will be a way for a fresh start. Somewhere where he doesn’t know anyone and can start a new life. But life has a way of being an asshole and before you know it, he is being played by his fake boyfriend and the ex. And he ends up almost homeless and turned out by the games they are playing. But the fake boyfriend apologizes and suggests that Oscar take the chance to start new like he wanted on his own and make the changes he wants. He just has to be honest with people from here on out for it to succeed. Then he ends up years later back in England, trying to convince his new interest to be more. And for once, he’s being honest.
I felt for Oscar. In the first book I read and in this once. He’s been through hell in his life. About half his own making. And while part of me feels sorry for what he’s had to endure, the other side of me feels like he’s gotten what he deserves for lying, playing the field and manipulating people the way he does. I understand having to close yourself down. Block yourself away so no one can get close to hurt you again. But damn, to add other people to that damage is not right. To use people and toss them away like trash, is cruel. And so it’s hard for me with this book to address how I feel to a point. Because so many emotions are there. I don’t want to sound like I’m judging. Because that is not my intent whatsoever. Having gone through my own personal hell, I wouldn’t want someone to judge me either for the stupid mistakes I made. And still make. I guess that’s the gist of it for me. I get Oscar. I get where he’s coming from. I get why he’s sad and feels so broken. Even though he does his best to hide the brokenness. I get the lashing out to use people before he’s used. To cut people away before they do it to him. To lie, to cover up, to hide. But it’s oh so lonely. And then people don’t trust you. Or you don’t trust them. It’s a rocky road to live. Change is always better if you are trying to better yourself.
I gave this book a 4 out of 5 because I do empathize so much. But it was a hard book to read. All the emotions, and lies, and betrayals just got to be too much. And for this to be based on true events……I hope life has turned out much better for the person it’s about. God knows it needs to be.