Andie’s Summer Reading List: The Otto Digmore Difference
Every so often I throw myself into Brent Hartinger‘s work — from The Geography Club to Three Truths and a Lie, each piece of literature puts a genuine smile on my face. I’ll spend countless nights reading and re-reading each page, devouring its words to sustain me. Now, along with most of the Russel Middlebrook series, I can’t help but feel that every time Russel finds his way into my life I find myself relating to everything. A few years after its release, I picked up The Geography Club as a freshman in high school and related to Russel — newly outed to friends with a secret to keep from others. As I grew up and became a writer for Sensible Reason, Brent was kind enough to send me The Futon Years, a three book series on Russel as a young adult finding his way in life. With the addition of The Otto Digmore Difference I find myself yet reflected in another character; sometimes the character development hits close to home, sometimes not, and yet I couldn’t help but fall in love with Otto each time I turned the page.
Despite being a successful supporting actor in a mediocre show, Otto’s television show is cancelled. When one door closes, another opens happens to be the saying, and for Otto, it holds true. His name is flaunted around as being a potential lead actor in a high profile film. With the support of Russel, Otto embarks on a cross-country trip to audition for a role he believes was made for him. Cliché moments happen such as picking up a hitchhiker with a tale to tell, vehicular troubles, and bringing joy to a small town — all of which leads up to a momentous and despairing climax.
The more I dug into Otto Digmore’s character, I couldn’t help but feel I was staring at a mirror. He was successful, I do alright as an editor and YouTube Let’s Player. But with a tedious job comes loneliness. Otto rarely had time for both platonic and romantic relationships, as do I. Throughout his career, there was one thing Otto mentioned casually — “be different but not too different.” As Otto happens to be a burn survivor, he also happens to be gay. His facial scars only add to limited work opportunities. I felt for him, I have nothing affecting me to that degree aside from being extremely overweight, which can turn off some potential romances. At the end of the day, I am a gay, overweight person and sometimes it’s too different. The busyness of Otto’s life felt real — always working to achieve something more. I never find time to do little things I enjoy as personal matters tend to get in the way. I find joy in recording games I’m playing, but it’s also work. I can guarantee after I finish this article I’ll be editing a video or working on a new thumbnail.
As for the romance portion, I laughed out loud when Otto was ghosted — having been ghosted not so long ago. Then realizing he still holds some feeling to his friend and former boyfriend…hit really close to home. My love life has been anything but nice, and as a hopeless romantic, each jump into romance has broken me each time and each time I throw myself into work to fill that void. (Let’s not mention now that I’m in my mid-20s most of my friends are happily getting married, and I drown my sorrows in vodka.)
Both Otto Digmore and The Otto Digmore Difference were easy to fall in love with. Otto remains a beautiful person, he tries hard to please and respect those he comes into contact with. As I mentioned before, the book itself was a mirror. I found my current struggles with work and life mirrored perfectly. As Brent Hartinger dedicated his latest work to his husband and “For all who are different, our differences are our strengths,” I feel hopeful that my oddities will appeal to someone who can appreciate my outlook on life.
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