“Book Review: A Leg in Oklahoma City”
Reviewed by Joe Walters
A Leg in Oklahoma City is a deeply personal tale of love and loss surrounding the OKC Bombing in 1995
It’s not every day you find the love of your life in the school cafeteria. But 18-year-old Tristan Killian can say he got lucky. Greg Hoetker’s debut novel A Leg in Oklahoma City packs a punch with new adult romance, unforeseen tragedy, and lyrical, gentle prose. This exploration of young love is sure to catch you rooting for a happily ever after you know can never come.
Tris Killian is a cook at his college’s cafeteria. He’s going through the motions of yet another forgettable day at the grill, when he finds a young woman he’s never seen before—and one he can’t take his eyes off of. He usually struggles with talking to girls, but this time, he draws closer to the mysterious young lady and finds himself talking to her naturally, easily, like water. After getting off from work, Tris and this unique young country girl take off to her home in a hollowed-out tree in the middle of the northern California redwoods.
This tale of true, young love covers only a span of a few months, but it feels completely whole. They traverse new sexual boundaries together and trust one another with their pasts and unique cultures in a loving, enjoyable tale. With the novel’s short snippets of chapters about the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, you can never quite sit still as a reader, aware that something is coming—something that will flip this love story on its head.
There are plenty of great things to discover in this novel. First and foremost, I’m enthralled by the dream-like state of our female love interest’s home. Having her live inside of a hollowed-out redwood creates something that feels just about as magical as Tris’s love with her, making us wonder right along with Tris just how perfect this woman can be. Their relationship is a unique one, too, with their dialogue often covering topics I don’t often see in new adult fiction. For those who enjoy odd kids falling love with the other’s oddities, you’ve got a match with A Leg in Oklahoma City.
In addition to those two aspects, the novel also benefits from beautifully simple drawings at the end of each chapter, helping us recognize the specialty of this love story. The drawings add a nice touch to the reading experience, constantly reminding us that the story is burrowing deep into our main character’s skin. The author also makes a wonderful choice of making sure the female character’s name is shared only between the characters and not with the reader. It makes us sit back and recognize just how special she is to him and what it is they want to share together—away from everyone else’s watching eye.
While I did enjoy this novel, there are a few things that didn’t sit altogether well with me, too. There is something really unique about the interactions of the two characters, but I’m afraid the relationship might be based a bit too much off of sex and odd banter. We don’t get to draw too close to the characters because most of the time they’re on the page together, they’re enjoying each other physically, not propelling us far beyond physical love except for their regular proclamations of love.
With her personality, it also feels like he enjoys her a bit too much because of her naivety, having not done many things because of her Amish past. I would’ve preferred his infatuation with her to come across a bit more with her personality than with her lack of experience.
Overall, this is an enjoyable literary romance with a strong premise and some powerful, loving prose. For those interested in a personal story surrounding the OKC bombing of 1995 and a tale of a girl whose story needs to be saved, this one could really work for you.
*All author profits go to charities, nonprofits, and educational institutions.
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