Book Reviews

Boy Wander by Jobert E. Abueva at Rattling Good Yarns Press

Genre Gay / Historical / Recent (1970s) / Memoir/Biography
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 19-May-2023

Book Blurb

Boy Wonder by Day. Boy Toy by Night.

A child TV personality from a prominent Filipino family and the son of an accomplished academic, Jobert Abueva was a high achiever at his all-boys Catholic international school in Tokyo, Japan. Whatever Jobert did, he had to be the best, racking up achievements. He was a favorite among his fellow students, who elected him three times to the Student Council as class president, vice president, and president. Jobert was a triple all-star winner on the brain bowl interschool academic competition, debate, and speech teams, as well as a varsity track hero. He wrote for the school newspaper and yearbook and performed in school plays. A golden boy who could do no wrong. But Jobert had a secret nobody could know. After school, he led a clandestine existence turning tricks with foreign male guests at Tokyo’s world-renowned Imperial Hotel. So it’s not surprising that he had to be the best and was handsomely paid for it. More exciting and better pay than waiting tables. A BMOC (Big Man on Campus), he juggled dual identities of boy wonder and boy toy, sure that if exposed, he would be shunned by his friends and devastate all who groomed him for greatness.

Book Review

Jobert Abueva begins by assuring readers that, to the best of his recall, this memory book is based on true events from his long-past youth. These are of family, friends, and the very flotsam of life which often caused changes in life’s direction. His youthful events are open to examination by curious, though naive, eyes and, by book’s end, continue to New York in the early 1980s.


Born and raised in the Philippines, to an educated and well-traveled family, he offers a description of his “beginnings” – even the common exercise of a seven-year-old boy exploring his penis! Properly phrased words mark the time and place, and as such, Abueva’s authorial talent needs to be appreciated. There were so many childhood crushes on other boys, though he was lucky enough to have proper distractions, from the Scouts to a family trip to Nepal – the latter very open with fertility shrines and detailed sex symbols! We are introduced to many things alien to most of us – styles of local education for youngsters, housing arrangements for well-off families, exotic foods. Jobert also travels widely, from Manila to Kathmandu, to Bangkok and Tokyo.


All this beautifully blends the hero’s life events with his environment, without loss of literary quality.


The life of youth this essentially exploration. Jobert seems attracted to young girls, but he also visualizes being with a male classmate, with whom he experiences an erection as they show each other their penises. If you are old enough to read this, you probably recognize that such “explorations” are not leading to free choices, but rather, to discovering our essential constructs.


And then there is Jobert’s exploration with men – usually of a much more mature age and, surprisingly, with improving practice, an unusual assertiveness for a youngster. By hindsight, his daring approach to cruising might be disturbing – but, this was a different time and place, in which his very class seems to offer protection. And he chose his places with care. Here is one example: Just aged fourteen, in the shopping arcade at Tokyo’s Hotel Imperial, who saw whom first? A man in his thirties or forties, “with a swath of white thunderbolt through his blown-dry hair. He was Pepe Le Pew.” Quite quickly, young Jobert is invited up to the room of this traveler, to relax for a while, He first stops in the men’s room to pee and gargle with faucet water. The episode requires reading and is emblematic of the novel’s factuality, its revelatory detail of adolescence for a particular substratum of youth, and the high quality of writing in which erotica is present but not distracting.


The book is a wonder of its kind. First we can immerse ourselves in the mores of many Asian locals of the period. We witness the certitude of a young boy’s / young man’s sexual maturation and self-assurance. “… the unsavory truth: I had become a male whore.” Examine young Jobert’s “void of satiation… getting it all until nothing matters.”


We are left with Jobert, the young and worldly man. What comes next? Perhaps there will be a next volume – though the thrust of the memoir is really complete. Want to know more about Jobert – that is what “About the Author” provides, that and, I suppose, the search engine on your computer. But, start with this marvelous memoir.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Rattling Good Yarns Press for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 260 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 03-May-2023
Price $9.99 ebook, $23.95 paperback
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