J.S. Wilson’s A Hundred Honeymoons takes readers into the world of teenage love, lust, and angst in small town San Luis Obispo, California, during the ’60s.
Todd, 16, a worker on his uncle’s ranch, falls for local girl Sally, 14, who lives in the suburbs nearby. Along with her two sisters, Sally is being raised by her proper and pious grandmother. The first time Sally and Todd meet, Sally vows to her grandmother that she’ll marry him.
While Todd and Sally deal with school, home life, authority figures, and the typical drama of raging hormones, Wilson introduces characters that take the narrative to another level. “Miss Lady,” the lonely wife of Todd’s alcoholic uncle, finds herself hopelessly attracted to the maturing teen. Even though she knows it’s morally wrong, she seduces him. Meanwhile, Mrs. V, the local cheerleading coach, has been pimping out and victimizing her charges for years. She continues to do so with a blossoming Sally and her well-endowed friend Brenda, insisting the girls service the athletes and booster members.
Eventually, the story follows Todd to the Vietnam war. Wilson seems well versed in details of the conflict and smartly uses letters between Sally and Todd to reveal happenings and Sally’s anxiety in their separation
The premise of adults in positions of power exploiting those they’re supposed to protect is not new, but Wilson takes it to an extreme, delivering provocative, salacious, and explicit details of sexual encounters the author seems to condone, but which many readers might find offensive. (“I didn’t know there was that much cum in the whole world,” Brenda says to Sally after one debauched night. “I see you got yours, too.”)
Additionally, the author delivers an unexpected twist in the storyline in the book’s latter part which some might find implausible.
The novel eventually explores the characters’ ability to move beyond youthful indiscretions. However, the unchecked exploitation they initially experience is likely to limit the novel’s appeal.
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