Author: Ryan Loveless
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 210 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Teen Fiction
At a Glance: Mixed feelings on this one for sure, guys. There’s no question I still love the story, but if you’re an adult, and you haven’t yet read the original, I would start there.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: School-wide, fifteen-year-old Carter Stevenson is known as “that twitchy, stuttering kid” thanks to his Tourette’s syndrome. After a disastrous talent show places him at the center of attention, he dreams of disappearing. When his parents announce the family is moving cross-country, that dream comes true. He’ll lay low through the summer in his new quiet California town, and when school starts, he’ll keep to himself. No one will ever be the wiser.
He doesn’t anticipate Ethan.
Seventeen-year-old Ethan Hart, the neighbors’ older son, is a few years into recovery from a traumatic brain injury. He is sensitive, joyous, and uninhibited. To him, Carter moves like the music only Ethan sees. He knows he and Carter are destined to be best friends and then boyfriends, if only Carter would get on the same wavelength.
Carter isn’t sure about a social life, but as Ethan introduces him to a new world of friends who accept him, tics and all, he starts to see the bright side of not hiding away.
Adapted as a YA edition of the award-winning novel Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless.
Review: Let me start out by saying that I LOVE Ethan and Carter. I loved them in the original book, Ethan, Who Loved Carter, from which this YA version, simply titled Ethan, is adapted, and I still loved them in this book. And, I do love that this story is out there now for a younger audience to enjoy; I was so excited when I saw that Ryan Loveless was reworking the original story. BUT, after reading Ethan, I sadly have to say that the adaptation didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped it would.
In Ethan, Carter is fifteen, almost sixteen, and has moved to Santa Josephina, a small town in California, with his parents. He moves in next door to the Harts, and soon meets Ethan, now eighteen. Three years ago, Ethan suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now mentally much slower than his actual age. He’s a wonderful, exuberant, gentle soul, with a whole host of friends and a family who loves him. One of the greatest things about Ethan, though, is that he sees Carter. He sees right past Carter’s Tourette’s—which has always made Carter feel ostracized to the point that he’d rather not be around most people at all—and simply sees Carter’s ‘music,’ as he calls it, the symphony created by Carter’s many vocal and body tics.
The friendship and love story between Ethan and Carter is awe-inspiring and beautiful. They are so lovely together, and the slow-burn worked here, for the most part. However, I feel like more revisions needed to be made to the original manuscript in order to make it more plausible as a YA book. Aside from making them younger, and removing almost all of the actual sex scenes, very little was done by way of modifying the story. The vast majority of the text is word for word the same as the original book. For some portions this works just fine—and I certainly don’t fault the author for not doing a total rewrite; that’s not what I’m suggesting. For some scenes, for example, when Carter goes to stay with Ethan and his younger brother, Elliot, to help out when the parents have to go out of town, a fifteen-year-old Carter simply doesn’t make sense. Or when Ethan suffers a huge setback, emotionally, and goes to Carter’s house for refuge and comfort, a sixteen-year-old Carter as the main caretaker for a special needs eighteen-year-old is just not a believable situation.
Also, there is still a LOT of mature content for the ages of the boys—particularly for Carter, obviously. The word ‘penis’ is in the book thirty-two times, and ‘dick’ another fourteen. Look, I know even young teenage boys talk about their penises…but, we’re talking about so much discussion about hard penises, and masturbating, and talk of seeing and touching penises…I realize that Ethan is different, and I realize that it was there sometimes for comedic affect, and it was funny. To a point. I understand keeping some of it in this version, but the mentions seemed excessive to me for a YA book.
Mixed feelings on this one for sure, guys. There’s no question I still love the story, but if you’re an adult, and you haven’t yet read the original, I would start there. For me, Carter especially reads better at his original age, and a couple of the major plotlines just don’t translate well. I wish more had been put into reworking it for the new audience.
You can buy Ethan here: