HARDWAY BY HECTOR ACOSTA
February 17, 2017
Shotgun Honey/ Down and Out Books
Why do people like stories about kids? It can’t be that everyone likes kids- they don’t. It’s because we can all relate to what it’s like to be young and unsure. We’ve all been there. We all know what it’s like to be the new kid at school, how terrifying the search for a seat in the lunchroom can be, or the feeling of cruising the neighborhood looking for other kids to have adventures with. In Spenser and Billy’s case, it’s the awful and awkward downsizing from a house to a tiny apartment. The brothers have always been as close as brothers can be, but as Billy has embraced his high-school years, he’s hit the weights and started dated the beautiful Tori. Things are really going well for Billy.
Spencer is still overweight and lonely.
Spencer and Billy were the founders of their own wrestling promotion: the RBWL or Royal Brooks Wrestling League. It’s a small neighborhood promotion, named after their new Dallas apartment complex. Spencer spends his days with his little black notebook, planning out storylines and plot points for the upcoming bouts. But when Eddie Tornado of the rival Woodland Terrace Federation, or WTF, starts to steal away RBWL’s audience, it’s only a matter of time before Spencer and Eddie Tornado come to blows.
Which they do. At the video arcade.
Spencer comes out on the short end of that stick. And then things just get worse from there.
HARDWAY is a deceptively simple story. Some readers will see it as a simple tale of backyard wrestling bouts filled with lightbulbs to the head and chairs to the back. Others will interpret it as a STAND BY ME style coming of age tale. Billy, Tori, Spencer, and the RBWL are destined to battle Eddie Tornado and the WTF for backyard apartment complex supremacy. But underneath the bluster, the tights, and Spencer’s lucha mask a greater battle is raging: the battle royal of young Spencer’s adolescent loneliness verses his adult responsibilities.
Hector Acosta tells Spencer’s story with a sure hand and deft storytelling. Hopefully, HARDWAY is the first of many novels from Hector Acosta.