The author kindly provided an advanced review copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for this review.
Ted has been living on the streets for six years, since he was orphaned at 17. He’s managed to survive without selling himself or getting hooked on drugs, but it’s a hard and lonely existence. One day when Ted gets a rare chance to check his email he finds a message from a lawyer telling him he may be heir to a fortune, if he can get to New York for the reading of a will. But, how does a young man with six dollars to his name get from San Francisco to New York in a week? He hitchhikes, of course. Along the way, Ted meets Benny, also homeless, but drug addicted and a sometimes sex worker as well. The two make an unlikely pair, but end up setting off together for New York to see what fate awaits Ted.
“Ted of the d’Ubervilles” is a very interesting book. It’s essentially told in two rather different parts (technically, it’s three, but the third bit is more of an epilogue.) The first half of the book, where we meet Ted and Ted eventually meets Benny, is essentially a buddy-slash-road-trip plot. Once Ted and Benny meet, it’s a series of misadventures while the two make their way to New York. The second half takes place after the pair arrive at the mansion in the Hamptons where Ted may be about to find out he’s the long lost relative of a very rich family. This second half is more of a mystery, which our hero needs to solve to find out if he really is the missing heir.
Ted is a very likable character, which he needs to be to carry a story like this. Perhaps more importantly, he is also very plausible. It’s somewhat amazing that a young man can survive on the streets as long as Ted has and not end up the worse for it, but you can also believe that he’s near the end of his ability to resist the various temptations when he’s thrown a life-line.
While the story follows Ted’s point of view, in many ways it’s really Benny that is the linchpin of the book. In contrast to Ted, Benny’s life has already started the downward slide, but he’s not far enough gone not to want out. Despite first impressions, Benny turns out to be a very likable character too. He’s a bit more street-wise than Ted, and his resourcefulness helps the pair to get out of a tight spot more than once. I tended to think of Benny as the “hooker with a heart of gold” through the story.
Based on the blurb, I was expecting this book to be a bit more depressing than it was. There are a few grim moments, but in fact, there’s a lot more humor than I was expecting. A lot of the funny lines comes in the interaction between straight Benny and gay Ted. The arc of the story was another surprise. Given the gay-for-you undertones early on in Ted and Benny’s relationship, you might expect a very different ending than the one in the book.
“Ted of the d’Ubervilles” is available from Amazon.