Stuck at Seven (While Awkwardly Aiming for Ten) – Edmund Christopher McCombs
When you look back at your childhood, your teenage years and your first forays into adulthood, I bet you have a few funny stories to tell…
From struggling to fit in at school, to awkward conversations about the birds and the bees and putting that knowledge into practice, your early years will have shaped you into the person you are today.
For the American author Edmund McCombs however, his growing pains were so painful and so funny they actually split my sides.
I was contacted by Ed and he asked me if I would be interested in reading his hilarious memoirs of his life so far. I get so many emails from people asking me to read and review their books (I guess around 90% of them are stock bullsh*t emails) but Ed’s email to me really stood out.
Because he sent me a personal message.
He took the time to read my site.
He didn’t send me a generic “read my book” message, he took the time to contact me personally, and that made me sit up and take notice. (Take note, indie authors. I appreciate you getting in touch but if you send me a copy and paste message I will ignore you).
ANYWAY! Having absolutely loved Nick Spalding’s Life…With No Breaks, reading Ed’s premise of his memoirs made me think “I have to give this a go!”.
The book kicks off with the amusing tale of his birth and a statement which sets the scene, perfectly, for the rest of his recollections and relates to its title:
“Seven has always seemed to represent where I end up. Desperately longing to be a “ten” on the benchmark of societal success, I have always ended up falling short based on some intangible aspect of my life. Whether it be my sometimes lazy eye, the seasonal allergies which cause me to swell and rash at a moment’s notice, or my regular asthma attacks which leave me looking like a dead fish faking an orgasm on the side of the road, I just can’t move up the ranks.”
And so we’re then taken on a hilarious journey through his awkward and painful years of growing up in America…
He learns about the birds and the bees from discovering his uncle’s stash of pornography, he gets bullied because of his silky clothes his mom pimps him out in, he struggles to cope with bad acne and eczema.
In this quest to just be liked, there’s a really funny scene where he wants people to come to his 12th birthday party so badly, that he lies and says that Zak from 90s kid’s show “Saved by the Bell” would be there…
Knowing it was a lie he panics, and gets his mom to sign some SBTB board game cards with his signature. Only trouble is, she signed them Zak, and not the actor’s real name Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
“My lie had been exposed. The hateful looks and threats of violence were back with a vengeance. By the time my party rolled around there was no one there. No Zak – just me, some relatives and a jar of caffeine pills…”
And so the book meanders on through his teen years and onto his move to Australia, where he learns that “fanny” doesn’t mean your rear-end.
By the time you come to wave goodbye to Edmund you’re left feeling you’ve made a new best friend – someone who has gone through some serious ‘fist in your mouth’ awkward moments. He speaks to you on a personal level. It takes confidence and guts to pour your heart out in a personal memoir like this and I felt privileged to have shared his journey.
So thanks Ed, I promised you I’d be honest and I hope I’ve done your debut novel justice. I do think you need to put a health warning on the cover though – “Do not read whilst drinking tea – you’ll spit it over your Kindle!” (Let’s just say the dwarf porn scene had me in hysterics).
A no-holds-barred romp of growing up in America in the ’90s. I bloody loved it.
The Book Boy Rating – 4/5