Michael S. Booker
Author of “The Shadow Series” “Freshman” “Freshman 2”
Language Lessons by Jay Bell
“Language Lessons” by Jay Bell (author of the very popular book Something Like Summer), centers on a young man named Joey, who thinks he knows everything about love—until he actually unexpectedly falls in love. Although Joey is a teenager on the verge of adulthood, he dresses, acts, and behaves like someone several years older than he actually is. He is suave and possesses a sense of confidence that almost borders on arrogance. When he meets a waiter named Phillip, at a local restaurant, Joey thinks he can add Phillip to his list of sexual conquests, but finds that seducing Phillip is more difficult than he originally though. Through the course of this novella, Joey reevaluates his attitude about love and himself.
The story begins with Joey reconnecting with an old high school classmate named Bradley, whom Joey charms into bed. After their sexual encounter, Bradley explains that he is actually still pining for another guy, named Scott, whom he had a brief fling with in high school. Unbeknownst to Bradley, Joey sets off to find Scott, who has returned to their hometown for his summer break from college, in an attempt to get Bradley and Scott back together. Early on, this story reminded me of Jane Austen’s Emma, whose titular heroine finds success in matching other couples together (or so she thinks), while unsuccessful at finding her own romance. After reconnecting Scott and Bradley at a restaurant, Joey encounters a cute waiter named Phillip, who is initially turned off by Joey’s frank, sexual advances. Surprised by Phillip’s rejection, Joey proceeds to try to woo Phillip, through a course of romantic gestures, and realizes that his feelings toward Phillip are much deep than sexual.
“Language Lessons” is a well-written, short love story. In my opinion, this story had the potential to be a much longer and more developed, like Bell’s Something Like Summer, but although brief, this story gets the job done. I like stories that include a character who are initially not the most likeable person on the planet, but transform through the course of the story. I would recommend this story, and am looking forward to reading Bell’s other work as well.
Michael S. Booker
Author of “Anomaly” and "Freshman 2"