That Doesn’t Belong Here
by Dan Ackerman
Published October 1st 2017 by Supposed Crimes
Genre: New Adult MxM Paranormal Romance
Source: review copy
In a Buzz: A touching story that makes you question who you and who we are
That Doesn’t Belong Here begins when Levi and his friend Emily discover an impossible creature in an abandoned pick up. The thing is wounded, frightened and the two friends cannot leave him to the mercy of rubberneckers and tourists. This novel explores what it means to be a person, as the creature, Kato, begins to display not mere intelligence or friendliness but what can only be explained as humanity. The question of who we are allowed to love arises for Levi and Kato, as they are not just crossing the boundaries of gender or sexuality, but of species.
About the author:
Dan Ackerman is a writer and educator from Connecticut who works in a centre school for students with a variety of intellectual, developmental, or multiple disabilities. Dan has one MBA and works on another while reading, writing and having gaming and movie marathons.
I liked “This doesn’t belong here” very much as it is a curious story. Not so much because it is strange for two young people to pick up a sea creature that turns out to be intelligent but because it opens up so many questions about what makes us human and why sexuality in general and in its different forms still is such a taboo.
Kato a sea creature whose culture doesn’t have any qualms about showing and living their sexuality as it comes naturally to them has trouble to understand the different ways the two humans he encounters first go about it. Levi still feels unhappy in his skin for being gay, and then he falls in love with Kato. Couldn’t get any more difficult for him, could it?
However, this is not only a story about sexuality. It is also a story about friendship and how humans treat creatures which are not considered “human”. Of course, Kato can’t stay hidden for long, and he gets kidnapped by an organisation that operates something like “Sea World” where he gets “displayed” having to do tricks. He gets mistreated and tries to escape.
Like Emily and Levi, I started to like and care about Kato. A wonderful character full of life, love and curiosity who wants to learn everything about humans but has his own burden to carry. Emily who misses her girlfriend Charlotte terribly as she is away for a year of studies is as curious as Kato, and you just have to love her easy going but often also direct way. Levi is more complicated as he tries to get to grips with who he is and who he wants to become. Belonging is important to him, and that’s an important topic for all of us.
The only thing that I found difficult was the fact that Emily’s girlfriend lives with autism. I feel somewhat contradictory about this point because, on the one hand, I think it is brilliant to have a special needs character in the story. On the other hand, though it felt to me like her character and condition was just added for diversity’s sake and did not add anything to the story between Kato and the humans.
The Honey of it all:
“This doesn’t belong here” is a genuinely entertaining story about how difficult it can be to be human and to figure out how to connect with an intelligent person who is not human. Sounds contradictory but maybe it is time to stop being so centred on the human species and its superiority. Of course, it is also about sexuality and how complicated it can be to accept oneself for who he or she is. Definitely worth reading.
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