The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini
I really have no fucking idea what I expected from this book, nor did I expect to dig this so much. It’s kind of an updated Christine — a dork becomes inexplicable best friends with a jock and falls in love with a super pretty popular girl — but instead of a car, it becomes a dark superpowers story. I don’t say superhero, because I don’t think anyone’s a hero in this. Everyone’s a selfish asshole, and while that could kill most books, it totally works here. It’s not a happy story, but it’s kind of a love story.
Dale Sampson is kind of a mopey nerd dick. And then one day, Mack, the school baseball superstar, befriends him. It’s not a nice friendship. Mack is a womanizing, foul-mouthed assclown. He’s a fucking sentient Maxim magazine. His heart might be in the right place, but his dick does most of the talking. He’s the kind of guy who’d rub his fingers under your nose to make you smell the pussy on his fingers and then berate the girl for being a slutty cunt. Dale believes he’s meant for greater things. That they’ll all be stars. And he becomes enamored with the more popular of a set of twin girls. Dale’s trying to get with her. Oh, and then there’s a school shooting.
That’s when Dale discovers he has regenerative powers. So he takes a dead end job to make ends meet after his mother dies from cancer and then discovers that the lesser of the two twins has an abusive drug-dealing husband. So he decides to try to sell his organs on the black market to help her get out of the relationship which she might kind of codependently want to stay in. I told you this wasn’t a happy fucking story.
It then swings out to Hollywood in this sort of grand guignol reality TV evisceration, and from there things keep escalating. While this may seem cartoonish, Venturini cements it in really horrid truth. It’s wistful, because you can believe in people going to these lengths. If you woke up with supernatural powers, you wouldn’t fight crime. You’d find a way to make money off it. Because that’s our ugly world now.