Jonathan Curelop’s 2013 book, Tanker 10, is the story of a boy’s journey into manhood using baseball as a backdrop. Young Jimmy LaPlante is overweight and subject to taunts from his brother and his cronies. The verbal abuse turns physical with unintended consequences.
It is a coming of age book that Curelop develops well. The Jimmy character in the book is just a few years younger than I actually am, so when the author describes cultural artifacts (turkey bacon, certain songs), I can readily identify with them and the time. It made the story seem much more authentic to me. So real is his writing that an early chapter that deals with a visit to the emergency room disturbed me. I don’t care for things medical and his description of the event bothered me. Really bothered me. That’s good writing.
We see Jimmy deal with his friends, his family (especially his brother Cliff), and eventually girls. This is where I think the book went off track. Young men fantasize about girls. Most encounter them in a more than platonic way. Jimmy does both. For some reason the author felt it important to be very graphic in the description of these meetings.
There is some memorable dialogue such as this exchange between members of the college baseball team discussing attractive women:
“You know who was hot? Natasha.”Unfortunately the author used the R-word, or a derivative of it, a few times. For a book that deals with bullying one might think that he'd be a bit more sensitive to the power of words.
“You know, from the cartoon.”
“Rocky and Bullwinkle?”
“How could she be hot? Her head was a rectangle.”
Overall I’d give Tanker 10 three stars out of five. It would have been four stars had Curelop and his editor been more judicious in parts of the book. The themes of the book are good, but this is not one that I can recommend for young readers due to the graphic nature of some of the scenes and the casual use of alcohol, drugs and profanity.
You can purchase Tanker 10 through amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
Disclaimer stuff: I was contacted in January by a representative of the author, asking if I'd be interested in reviewing the book. The author provided the book to me. I received no compensation for the review nor did I feel compelled to give the book a pass.