Prince Harry Boy to Man by William Kuhn
Maturity Level: 5
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It’s 2007, Harry’s twenty-three and he has problems he can’t handle alone. The army considers him a risk. The press thinks he’s a brat. Girls like him because he’s a prince. He wishes he wasn’t. He hopes service in Afghanistan will help him solve that. Instead, deployment exposes vulnerability under his bad boy persona and results in a comic coming of age he definitely didn’t see coming. He’s always hated the media so he doesn’t know what to do when he falls for a reporter from CNN. It’s complicated by the fact that she’s disguised as a man to evade the Pentagon’s ban on women in front line positions. Nor does he anticipate making a gay best friend in a brother officer named Mustafa. And what’s his former nanny doing on the plane to Kabul? There’s also a warlord driving a Mercedes and a colonel who’d much rather be reading Shakespeare. Together they stumble upon buried trauma from Harry’s childhood. If he can learn how to cope with all that, he may find fulfillment he never dreamed was possible in being a prince.
Occasionally I have wished that, as with movies, comedy was considered a literature genre. This is one of those times. Honestly, I think that Mr. Kuhn has missed his calling and should be writing screenplays. Maybe then we could see some movies that were actually funny.
Prince Harry Boy to Man had the satirical elements down. One particularly memorable scene had an angry Afghan war-lord yelling at a British officer because they were money loving, godless people who worshiped Apple, but who also carried a iPhone. I frequently found myself laughing out loud at the hypocrisies of the characters.
Kuhn’s strong suit as an author is writing comical but lovable characters. In Prince Harry I especially loved Frances, an aging former royal-nanny who likes her whisky now and then (and most of the time), but who is full of enough gumption to hop on a plane to a war zone just so she might get to talk to Harry. Andrew, Harry’s commanding officer who is looking forward to teaching Harry some discipline and putting him in his placce, yet decides the best way to do this might be Shakespeare. Cindy, a reporter so deperate to be taken seriously that she literally dresses up as a boy. And then, of course, Harry is always playing the class clown and making the cast and reader alike laugh.
But what I loved best was how Prince Harry was really a comedy of errors. It was silly in a very Shakespearean way. Cindy pretending to be a boy, and Harry liking her was straight out of Twelfth Night. The situations were so ludicrous that you would never in a million years think you were reading anything other than fiction. Of course an ambassador would never let some old woman in Kabul just drive him out into the dessert looking for a kidnapped officer. My favorite scene involved the prisoners, all sitting in chairs that are chained together, lifting their chairs and chains in unison and noisily scooting across the room and back. It was straight out of a cartoon or 60s sitcom. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that successfully had physical comedy.
Comedy aside, it was also nice to get a look at what it might be like to be Harry. The difficulty of fame, how girls don’t like him for him as much as for the crown. His hatred of the media and continuing grief of his mother. His odd justifications of his bad behavior. I only wish there had been a little more of that.