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Publisher's Summary

“Road trip!”  

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he's finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he's also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he's just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.  

Now he's up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.  

It's hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.  

There's also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he might still have romantic feelings for his best friend.  

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?  

Author Brent Hartinger first introduced the character of Otto Digmore in 2005, in his Lambda Award-winning books about Russel Middlebrook. Back then, Otto was something pretty unusual for YA literature: a disabled gay character.  

Now, more than a decade later, Otto is grown up and finally stepping into the spotlight on his own. The Otto Digmore Difference, the first book in a new stand-alone series for adults, is about much more than the challenges of being "different." It's also about the unexpected nature of all of life's journeys, and the heavy price that must be paid for Hollywood fame.  

But more than anything, it's a different kind of love story, about the frustrating and fantastic power of the love between two friends.  

Praise for Brent Hartinger:  

“Hits the narrative sweet spot." (NPR's All Things Considered)  

"Downright refreshing." (USA Today

"Touching and realistic...hilarious." (Kirkus Reviews)

©2017 Brent Hartinger (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Otto Digmore Difference

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I wanted to like it....

While it's nice to have a protagonist who is physically imperfect, I just didn't *like* Otto Digmore—or Russel Middlebrook, for that matter.

That alone, though, wouldn't have been enough to drag my rating down from three stars to two, but the book suffers from a handful of other problems, most notable of which is the way character dialogue is used as a vehicle for delivering the author's revealed truth about a variety of topics, including "what's wrong with the Hollywood film industry" and "which is the only good narrative formula in screenwriting." Add to that the fact that the supporting characters are cardboard cut-outs who exist only in relation to the protagonist—to adore him, teach him valuable life lessons, or sometimes both—and the whole book felt as flat and uninspired as the twist that telegraphed itself from the very beginning.

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Surprisingly Good!

I didn’t know this book was so deep. It makes you take a look at yourself and where do you see your future going. Especially with the path chosen and how you treat the people you cross. It is a love story but not a lovers story so there is no heat. But you don’t really need it for the plots. Good for all ages.

4 people found this helpful

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A screenplay?

Unbelievable premise (a badly burned young man who wants to make it in Hollywood, and is frustrated by the limits of his casting?), unbelievable, shallow characters whose every move or remark is explicitly explained ("I said," "he said," "I opened the door. I went inside.") Was this a short story stuffed to be a novel? Or meant to be a screen play, with every action proscribed? I admit I couldn't listen to the whole thing.

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  • MB
  • 09-20-20

Sweet story

I really enjoyed all the books in the series - both narration and the plot make for great listen. It felt genuine (which cannot be said of most M/M romance written by women)

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Otto

This was a very thoughtful tale with lots of intrigue. I was thinking during the latter part of the story about how Otto was feeling sorry for himself and how the life of others brought him out of that state. The ending pulled everything together and has a nice ending.

1 person found this helpful

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Great followup to the Russel Middlebrook series

Great followup to the Russel Middlebrook series. I loved how it continued the ending of the last book in the series. Looking forward to the next Auto Digmore book.

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Fantastic book - skillfully told, genuinely moving

I was so impressed with this book. Brent Hartinger is a skilled storyteller who never forgets rule number 1: Always make the reader want to know what happens next. I really appreciated the storytelling craftsmanship of this book. First and foremost, this is a good, old-fashioned page-turner of a book -- but it is much more than that: It is also emotionally honest and presents in Otto a character who achieves deep and believable personal growth through the arc of the novel.

Otto is a very relatable character, and it's easy to invest in him and his life challenges. When the story opens, he's a successful actor in a TV series and half his face and body show the scars of a terrible burn accident in his younger years. I know this sounds like it might be a superficial Hollywood set-piece type of fiction, but Otto comes across as 3-dimensional, a survivor, strong, vulnerable, wise, kind, lonely, and smart. His inner life and his professional life are both rendered in a believable and involving way.

Otto and his best friend Russell end up driving from Los Angeles to New Orleans so Otto can audition for a major director of an upcoming studio film. The one time I was taken out of the story was their encounter with the black pickup truck in Arizona. This episode rang false and melodramatic. Fortunately, the deep emotional honesty in the final third of the book more than made up for this small narrative misstep. Otto’s self-reckoning seems deep and genuine and had a deep sense of core universal human truth. I always find it paradoxical when a work of fiction (by definition a lie) can reveal deep truth about human nature, and this book really manages to do that in an involving and moving way. This book is a very good story, and by the end it is also art.

And just in terms of authorial craftsmanship, I really admired the alternating back-and-forth between Otto’s narration of events in New Orleans and his interior monologues reacting to those events in real time. This is a writer of such skill and talent, and I’m a real fan. This is a very committed, talented, skillful author who is working at a high technical level of fiction writing while also plumbing deep reserves of emotional honesty.

And by the way, the narrator of the audio book (Michael Crouch) was sensational. From the first paragraph, I completely believed that Otto (the first-person narrator) himself was telling us his story. He perfectly embodies Otto’s sensitivity and intelligence. He also did a remarkable job of shifting his voice acting whenever Russell was speaking, making him a completely separate and believable character. Michael Crouch is a sensitive and very skilled narrator.

I am thoroughly impressed with this book and am really looking forward to the second book in this series.

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Better than expected..

The story was so much more than I was expecting. I expected it to fizzle out within the first couple of chapters but it didn’t. No hot sex but a good story line… one that allowed me to see the world through someone else’s eyes from a perspective that I had never considered. Very sobering..

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ACTORS MOST READ

Just a really good story that I could relate to on sooo many levels. Every actor should read

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Great Story, Great Listen

I purchased this title blindly without giving much thought to the description. It wasn't until I was a few chapters in that I realized the characters had carried over from a previous Hartinger novel.
This was a great story and not your typical gay romance novel. I could have done without the final romance twist but obviously that wasn't the focus of the book.

The best compliment I can give to gay fiction is, this book would still have been a good read if the characters weren't gay. Harder to identify with but still a good book.

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  • richard
  • 02-19-22

This is a truly fantastic story!

My second read of this book, it's remarkable, the carecters feel so real the story is charming, heartwarming and heart breaking, I loved it and the whole Russel middlebrook series

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  • Marie grice
  • 01-27-22

how things change

Not my usual read and in truth the narrating was on the slow side, fBUT he has a lovely voice and the story was good.

For me, what let it down the most was the narrating, and in parts the storyline would waffle about things.

probably won't read anymore of this author. it could have been a really exceptional book but the above let it down.

I hope to hear the narrator again as long as he doesn't keep stopping and starting every few words, really does have a lovely voice lol.

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  • John Regan
  • 05-30-22

Brilliant story

This story is excellent it challenges thinking and perception and presents very interesting view of what it is to be an actor amongst so many other perceptions. Brilliant story.

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  • Wide Eyes, Big Ears!
  • 04-25-22

Moving, sobering, heartwarming: a complete triumph

Every now and then you encounter a book with such real feelings it takes you breath away. We met Otto in Russel Middlebrook’s stories and here we get to see what it’s like to live with facial and bodily scaring due to burns. Otto Digmore is a talented actor who is turned down for most Hollywood parts due to his looks. His agent is encouraging him to take demeaning roles that reinforce the stereotypes. He cops A LOT of online abuse for even daring to try. In an effort to audition for the lead in a major film, he and Russel travel from LA to New Orleans to wow the director. This is ultimately a road trip story with hair-raising and frustrating incidents and Otto must manage his hopes and fears as well as his long-held unrequited feelings for Russel. As with all travel stories, it’s about self-discovery rather than reaching a destination: it’s sobering, heartfelt and, ultimately, very moving. Otto is one of the most relatable and real characters I’ve come across in a book, I suffered right along with him. This is gay fiction rather than m/m romance; romance plays a very small part in the story. YA super narrator Michael Crouch does his usual amazing job on the audiobook.

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  • JTino
  • 12-05-21

King Lear Within King Lear

Beautifully imagined and written. Flawless performance by the narrator. Thoroughly recommend.
It’s one of those books that stay with you and you find yourself thinking about it long after you’ve finished it.