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A funny and poignant series about Russel Middlebrook’s gay disabled friend, Otto Digmore, as he struggles to make it as an actor in Hollywood. New Adult, stand-alone.



A fun and sexy series about a twentysomething gay guy trying to figure out life and love. A #1 Amazon bestseller. New Adult, stand-alone.



My various mysteries, including an Edgar Award nominee, a mind-bender with a twist ending, and a book adapted for an upcoming feature film.



The classic, Lambda Award-winning YA series about a gay teen and his collection of smart, dorky friends. Also a feature film. 


(A Series for Adults)

Book 1, The Otto Digmore Series

"Road trip!"



Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he might still have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

Author Brent Hartinger first introduced the character of Otto Digmore in 2005, in his Lambda Award-winning books about Russel Middlebrook. Back then, Otto was something pretty unusual for YA literature: a disabled gay character.

Now, more than a decade later, Otto is grown up and finally stepping into the spotlight on his own. The Otto Digmore Difference, the first book in a new stand-alone series for adults, is about much more than the challenges of being “different.” It’s also about the unexpected nature of all of life’s journeys, and the heavy price that must be paid for Hollywood fame.

But more than anything, it’s a different kind of love story, about the frustrating and fantastic power of the love between two friends.

Available in an Audible audio edition

Listen to me discuss this book


In this frank and funny tale, Hartinger does an especially fine job of handling Otto’s complex feelings for Russel without falling back on a generic rom-com happy ending. … A fresh take on the theme of achieving self-acceptance in a world that discourages difference, it delivers. A heartwarming story about staying true to yourself whatever others might think.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“It is beautiful and poignant and hits every pitch just right. More than once, and not even at particularly emotional moments, I was both laughing and crying over what a relief it was to know someone else out there gets it. … For polished storytelling, brilliantly drawn characters, and finely crafted subtext, this gets [our highest rating].”
– Divine Magazine

“I loved this book … [It] really digs deep into Otto – from his relationship with his scars and what they mean for his life to his feels on Russel, showbiz, his childhood and where he is in his life at age 26. Reading what motivates him was fascinating because he is the very different character in the Russel universe–which of course make the title of this book very appropriate. … I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing where Otto goes from here.”
– Jeff and Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast

“Thanks, Brent, not just for making Otto’s life better, but for touching my heart and making me feel so deeply.” [Highest Rating]
– Rainbow Book Reviews

“An engrossing, excellently written, at times poignant and at times funny story of a very important time in gay men’s lives.” [Highest Rating]
– OJHeSay

“I laughed out loud. … Both Otto Digmore and The Otto Digmore Difference were easy to fall in love.”
– Sensible Reason Magazine

“I absolutely adored it.” [Highest Rating]
– Mirrigold


Book 2, The Otto Digmore Series

"If we get caught, they'll throw us in jail. On the other hand, we'll have been involved in one of the craziest Hollywood stories I've ever heard, and maybe someone will want to turn that into a movie!"

Otto Digmore Decision 640.jpg

Otto Digmore is back, still trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood (despite his facial scars), but frustrated by all the schemers who'll stab you in the back to get ahead. But then Otto's good friend Russel Middlebrook sells a screenplay, a heist movie set in the Middle Ages — and Otto has been cast in an important supporting role! For twelve weeks, Otto and Russel will be on location together in England and Malta.

Problem is, once production is underway, it quickly becomes clear that the director is ruining Russel's script. If the movie ends up being the bomb that both Otto and Russel expect it to be, it could destroy both their Hollywood careers forever.

But Otto and Russel aren't willing to take that chance. Together, they hatch a crazy plan to make a good movie behind the director's back. But how far are they willing to go to save their careers? Are they willing to become exactly the kind of scheming backstabbers they always said they hated? And what if Otto and Russel disagree?

Regardless of the answer, The Otto Digmore Decision proves the old adage about creative pursuits: that the most interesting drama always happens behind the scenes!


  • The sequel to The Otto Digmore Difference.

  • Soon to be available at Net Galley. The author (who is a working screenwriter) is available for interviews, including podcast interviews.

  • By the author of Geography Club. Russel Middlebrook is a supporting character in this book.

  • Also soon to be available in an Audible audio edition.


“Hits the narrative sweet spot.”
– NPR’s All Things Considered

“Downright refreshing.”
– USA Today

“The most artful and authentic depiction of a gay teen since [1978].”
– Horn Book Magazine


(A series for adults)

Book 1, Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years

I guess this was what they meant by a loss of innocence. Who knew?


Russel Middlebrook is twenty-three years old, gay, and living in trendy Seattle, but life isn’t keeping up with the hype. Most of his friends have a direction in life—either ruthlessly pursuing their careers or passionately embracing their own aimlessness. But Russel is stuck in place. All he knows is that crappy jobs, horrible dates, and pointless hook-ups just aren’t cutting it anymore.

What’s the secret? What does everyone else know that he doesn’t?

Enter Kevin, Russel’s perfect high school boyfriend. Could rekindling an old flame be the thing Russel needs to get his life back on track? Or maybe the answer lies with a new friend, an eccentric screenwriter named Vernie Rose, who seems plenty wise. Or what the hell? Maybe Russel will find some answers by joining his best friend Gunnar’s crazy search for the legendary Bigfoot!

One way or another, Russel is determined to learn the all-important secret to life, even if it’s a thing he doesn’t even know he doesn’t know.

Author Brent Hartinger first made a splash writing books for teens. The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know, Hartinger’s first book for older readers, is just as much of a page-turner as his earlier works, with plenty of his trademark irreverent humor. But now his books have grown up along with his readers, exploring the issues of new adults, especially the complicated matter of love and sex.

Listen to me discuss this book


  • #1 Amazon Bestseller (Gay Fiction)

  • A Forever Young Adult “Best of 2014″ Pick

  • An Audio Book on

  • Available in Spanish


“A great read. Russel’s narrative voice is engaging and unflinchingly honest.  You can’t help but love him … I finished the book smiling.”


To learn the story behind this music video, click here. To buy the song, click here.

“A superb read! Hartinger nails the voice of a character right on the precipice of adulthood, a young man who feels lost amid a Seattle landscape full of adults who have it all figured out, peers who seem to have either unstoppable career drive or passionate aimlessness. It’s fun, moving, and real. Read it!”
– Bill Konigsberg, award-winning author of Openly Straight and Out of the Pocket

“Brent Hartinger ushers irrepressible fan favorite Russel Middlebrook into the next phase of his life with trademark wit and heart. Readers who have grown up with Russel will welcome this latest chapter in his always entertaining and frequently moving misadventures, while those meeting him for the first time will quickly find themselves with a new best friend.”
– Michael Thomas Ford, author of Last Summer and Full Circle

“The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know is a real page turner and I laughed, I gasped, I cheered for Russel, and everything in between as I read it. Brent hits the nail on the head when describing adulthood for the new generation: how we have dreams, fears, and are lost.”
– Sensible Reason Magazine

”Russel Middlebrook is an extremely engaging character, and I positively adored him…. For as little as Russel seems to think is going on in his life, he certainly kept me captivated with his story.”
– Swept Away by Romance

“A success — and hopefully the first of many books of its genre.”
– Gay City News


Book 2, Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years

"There was no way moving to Los Angeles was going to make me give up my soul. After all, I’d already seen all the movies about Hollywood. I knew how things worked."


Twenty-four year-old Russel Middlebrook and his boyfriend have moved to Los Angeles so Russel can try to make it as a screenwriter.

Twenty-four year-old Russel Middlebrook and his boyfriend have moved to Los Angeles so Russel can try to make it as a screenwriter.

Almost right away, in a forgotten old house off of Sunset Boulevard, Russel meets Isaac Brander, a once-famous film producer who is convinced he can turn Russel’s screenplay into a movie.

Russel knows that success can’t possibly come this easy. After all, most of Russel’s Los Angeles friends are so desperate to make it that it’s downright scary. His ex-boyfriend, Otto, is trying everything to become an actor, and Daniel, the sexy neighbor, doesn’t even need a casting couch to get naked.

So what’s the catch with Mr. Brander? Could it be that movies about Hollywood don’t tell the whole truth? But what does that mean for Russel’s soul?

Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams, a companion book to Brent Hartinger’s The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know, is a fast-paced, funny story about the price of fame in Hollywood: the hilarious lengths people will go to achieve it, and the touching secret to survival when things don’t work out exactly as planned.

Listen to me discuss this book




"A sharp, canny, highly engaging tour through a Hollywood of cunning characters and colorful intrigues, guided by the clever voice of Russel Middlebrook as an eager young screenwriter trying to bust in. I was charmed by every sly, sexy page.”
– Barry Sandler, screenwriter of Making Love and Crimes of Passion

“With his trademark wit, warmth, and economy, Brent Hartinger brilliantly captures what it’s like to move to L.A. and try and make it in Hollywood: the highs and the lows, the friends and the phonies, the fun and the frustration. And by the way, is it too late for me to be Russel Middlebrook when I grow up?”
– Dennis Hensley, co-screenwriter of Testosterone, author of Misadventures in the (213)

“A thrilling tale of what it takes to achieve your impossible dreams.”
– Sensible Reason Magazine

“Simultaneously light-hearted and introspective … my favorite Russel Middlebrook book to date … so good I didn’t want to put it down.”

“Heart and humor … [and] a Hollywood ending that had me grinning from ear to ear.”
– Bookaholism

“If you liked [the Russel Middlebrook Series], you’re sure to love the slightly older Russel … I can’t wait for the third novel coming out next year!”
– Shooting Stars Magazine

“Anyone who’s ever produced a film, written a novel, auditioned for a movie, or sent out a demo tape can relate to this book.”
– Forever Young Adult


Book 3, Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years

I think gay guys like weddings more than anyone. And it’s not because we want to destroy marriage, like some people say. It’s because we really, really want to get married!


Russel Middlebrook is gettin’ hitched!

The wedding is taking place in a remote lodge on an island in Puget Sound. Russel and his husband-to-be have invited all their close friends to spend the whole weekend together beforehand.

And for the first time in his life, Russel is determined to not be neurotic, and not over-think things.

But that’s before things start going wrong. Who expected a dead killer whale to wash up on the beach below the inn? And what’s this about a windstorm approaching? Then there’s the problem of Russel’s anxious fiancé, who is increasingly convinced the whole thing is going to be a disaster.

Meanwhile, the wedding is taking place near the ruins of a small town, Amazing, where, a hundred years earlier, the people supposedly all disappeared overnight. Why does it feel like the secret at the end of the road to Amazing has something to do with Russel’s own future? Can Russel’s friends Min, Gunnar, Vernie, and Otto somehow help him make it all make sense?

The Road to Amazing, the last book in the Russel Middlebrook Futon Years trilogy, is a story about endings and beginnings, and also about growing up and growing older. But mostly it’s a story about love and friendship—about how it’s not the destination that makes a life amazing, but the people you meet along the way.

Listen to me discuss this book



“A great, introspective story.”
– Rainbow Book Reviews


(For the story behind this music video, click here. To buy the song
on iTunes, click here.)

“Sometimes a book just sucks me in so hard that I almost cannot break away to do anything functional … I felt like I was on a sun-dappled raft floating along a warm vista-filled river while reading this book. I was so engaged … I’ll be honest, when I read the blurb for this book — after reading the actual book — I felt wistful and melancholy. I’m not ready to be done with Russel and Kevin.”
– V’s Reads

The Road to Amazing has brought out a much-needed purpose in my life … I found so much truth in it. … It’s not just an unusual cast of characters that include a famous actor, a rich friend, intelligent and brilliant individuals that add to the magic of this series; it’s the truth behind each character. ”
– Sensible Reason Magazine



(A Series for Teens and Adults)

Book 1, The Russel Middlebrook Serious

Russel Middlebrook is convinced he’s the only gay kid at Robert L. Goodkind High School.


Then his online gay-chat buddy turns out to be none other than Kevin, the popular but closeted star of the school’s baseball team. Soon Russel meets other gay students too. There’s his best friend, Min, who reveals she‘s bisexual; Min’s soccer-playing girlfriend, Terese; and Terese’s politically active friend, Ike.

But how can kids this diverse get together without drawing attention to themselves?

“We just choose a club that’s so boring nobody in their right mind would ever in a million years join it. We could call in the Geography Club!”

Geography Club is for anyone, gay or straight, who’s ever felt like an outsider — a fast-paced and funny tale of teenagers who may not learn any actual geography in their latest club, but who discover plenty about the treacherous social terrain of high school, and the even more dangerous landscape of the human heart.


Here’s the story of how my book became a movie. And check out photos from my set visit.

  • An Audio Book on

  • Adapted as a Feature Film (2013)

  • A Two-Time Book Sense 76 Pick

  • A Banned Books Book Sense Top Ten Pick

  • A USA Today “Great High School Book”

  • A Children’s Book Award “Notable Book”

  • A 2003 Lambda Literary Award Finalist

  • Best LGBT YA Books of All Time, GoodReads Poll, #13

  • An ALA “Popular Paperback”

  • A Nancy Pearl (Booklust) “Very Best Teen Novel”

  • A New York Public Library “Book for the Teen Age”

  • A Booklist “Top Ten Best First YA Novel”

  • A Teen Vogue “Best” Book

  • A “Best of 2003″

  • Volunteer State Book Award (Tennessee), 2nd Place

  • A Texas HS Reading List (TAYSHAS) Pick

  • A Connecticut Library Association “Best Book”

  • A Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee

  • An Eliot Rosewater Award (Indiana) Nominee

  • A Tri-State “Book of Note”

  • An Evergreen (Washington) Young Adult Book Award Nominee

  • A Flume Award Nominee

  • CA State Dept. of Education “Recommended Literature”

  • A Maryland Library “Great Book”

  • A YALSA “Must Read” Book


“A compelling look at the high school scene and the serious consequences of being ‘different.’ The plot never falters. Dialogue flows smoothly and is always completely believable….Characterization is excellent…This author has something to say here, and his message is potent and effective in its delivery. Many teens, both gay and straight, should find this novel intriguing.”
– School Library Journal

“This honest, emotional and funny story follows a gay teen as he struggles and triumphs during his sophomore year ...The books are entertaining for all readers, regardless of their sexuality.”
– USA Today

“Hartinger has crafted a truly hilarious and original novel that is every bit as complex and engaging as the last good adult book you read…It’s a credit to Hartinger that you can be as straight as uncooked pasta and not remember anything of high school beyond your school colors, and still find this book thoroughly enjoyable.”
– Spokane Inlander

“A breath of fresh air — mainly because, with all of his foibles, Russel is such a likable guy, with a wonderful sense of humor.”
– Seattle Times

“This is such a masterly crafted novel…[Hartinger] is also a playwright; perhaps that accounts for the story’s solid structure and for its author’s skills at building the intensity and complexity of the plot and the fortunes of its characters to an unexpected, almost third-act crescendo at the end.”
– Nancy Garden (author of Annie on my Mind) in Lambda Book Report

Geography Club deserves every bit of praise it’s been receiving.”
– Dallas Voice

“What gives [Geography Club] distinction is Russel’s pointed narration, pitch-perfect as the slightly superior, world-weary, and ironic gay boy who you know will make a grand success of himself once he manages to get past adolescence…this is the most artful and authentic depiction of a gay teen since M.E. Kerr’s groundbreaking Charlie Gilhooly in [1978's] I’ll Love You When You’re More Like Me.”
– Horn Book Magazine

How this book got published

How my book became a movie

Photos from my movie set visit


Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen.”


Russel Middlebrook is back, in a stand-alone sequel to Geography Club, and he’s off to work as a summer camp counselor with his best friends Min and Gunnar. He’s sick and tired of being openly gay in high school, and a peaceful summer at Camp Serenity is just what he needs to relieve the stress that comes from being an “out” teenager.

But he doesn’t count on sudden new rivalries with Min and Gunnar, or having to chase after a cabin full of unruly campers. And he especially doesn’t count on a fellow counselor as hunky as Web Bastion.

Things do happen at Camp Serenity, especially at night. Brent Hartinger’s third novel is a story about Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and the mysteries of a secret society called the Order of the Poison Oak. But more than anything, this witty page-turner is about bravery in the face of unexpected danger, the passion of a sizzling summer romance, and, most of all, the courage to be yourself.


  • An Audio Book on

  • A Bookspan Book Club Main Selection

  • A Book Sense 76 Pick

  • An ALA “Popular Paperback”

  • An ALA “Rainbow List” Pick

  • A “Best of 2005″

  • A BookLoons “Best of 2005″

  • A “Best of 2005″

  • A “Teen Squared” Best Book of 2005

  • A BiMagazine “Must Read” Book

  • A Holiday Pick

  • A “Mostly Fiction” Top Novel of 2005

  • A YALSA “Teen Top Ten” Nominee

  • A Maryland Library “Great Book”


“[When I finished the book], I was sniffling and my eyes were moist: It’s what’s meant by the phrase ‘being moved to tears.’…the book is beautifully written, authentic-sounding and smart….all the right traditional values are underscored: honesty, cleverness, generosity, trust.”
– Philadelphia Inquirer

“A touching and realistic portrait of gay teens. The characters are three-dimensional, and Russell narrates in a perfect teen patois that is often hilarious. Teens — gay and straight — will connect.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“Hartinger is a master at crafting a high school setting, and Russel, Min, Gunnar and all the rest are just great characters … A brave, bold book.”

“I pray I can consistently deliver books of the same high caliber as I try to follow in Brent’s footsteps. He inspired me beyond belief. His work made me believe in myself, even when I wasn’t sure I could believe in myself. For this, and for all his groundbreaking work, I, we, all of us owe a tremendous debt to Brent Hartinger, and here’s to more and more books from one of my favorite authors.”
– Perry Moore, author of Hero.

“This storyline could have easily become maudlin and sappy, but he kept it crisp and authentic … While his books are aimed primarily at a teen audience, kids of all ages will love his realistic and relatable tales of teenaged angst … Must read. (Highest Rating)”

“Hartinger [is one of the] big success stories in YA lit.”
– The Advocate

“Lest any of this sounds angst-ridden, it’s all leavened by Russel’s chatty, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes enthusiastic teen voice. He addresses the reader like one teen telling his story to another, lending the story an immediacy and sense of reality, and his observations can be funny as well as refreshingly honest.”
– Kliatt

“The story transcends queer kid romance angst … The Order of the Poison Oak, with its easygoing emphasis on the virtue of tolerance and the value of friendship, is a well-pitched novel for teen readers — but one that will appeal to grownups with a yen for intelligent, humorous coming-of-age fiction.”
– Richard Labonte’s Book Marks

“A delight … funny, touching … With this third novel from Brent Hartinger, I can see that he is an author who is only becoming more accomplished. (Highest Rating)”
– Midwest Book Review


Book 3, The Russel Middlebrook Series

(Previously published under the title Split Screen)


It’s a horror-movie extravaganza in the second sequel to Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club. Two complete books in one recount the stories of best friends Min and Russel who sign up to be extras on the set of a zombie film — and learn that there’s nothing scarier than high school romance!

In the first book, Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, Russel must choose between his long-distance boyfriend and a close-to-home ex named Kevin who wants to get back together. In the second book, Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, Min struggles to accept her cheerleader girlfriend’s decision to stay in the closet.

But beware! Russel and Min’s separate stories affect each other in surprising ways — and you’ll have to read both books together to find out the whole story.


  • An Audio Book on

  • An InsightOut Book Club “Alternate Selection”

  • An InsightOut Book Club Bestseller

  • A “Best of 2007″

  • Winner of the National Best Book 2007 Award

  • A 2008 New York Public Library “Book for the Teenage”

  • A Flamingnet “Top Choice”


“I really think this guy could be the next Judy Blume.”
– Pop Candy

“Hartinger has a knack for teen dialogue, and his characters spring to life — even in costume as the undead. At the heart of Zombies is the teen friends’ respect and caring for each other, which, these days, is downright refreshing.”
– USA Today

“Both stories stand alone, yet each compliments the other. To be expected, the action is fast and funny … [Hartinger] puts his best humor skills to use, and no doubt the same teen fans who formed their own geography clubs will be dubbing their dissenters soul-sucking zombies.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“Imaginatively delightful … Hartinger makes clever use of the fact that no two people live through — or recall — shared events the same way.”
– Richard Labonte’s Book Marks

“The best writing of the season … a great read for any dreary afternoon.”
– OutSmart Magazine

“Hartinger uses a clever idea to show that perspective is everything … Hartinger’s handling of Russel’s parents is spot-on as well … Hartinger handles his characters with the right amount of angst and humor, making this a valuable read.”

“The vast appeal of a Brent Hartinger novel lies in the way the author captures young men at their most vibrant and comical. Since the debut of his Geography Club in 2003, there has been no stopping his literary success.”
– Bay Area Reporter

“What is intriguing about the book is how very differently these two characters interpret the same events, and how oblivious each one can be to what is happening to the other…. There is a lot of humor in this book. The characters’ narrative voices sound authentically teen, and the section in which Russel tells about his coming out to his parents, their reaction, and his subsequent talk with the family priest particularly rings true. Min Wei’s story is equally well told.”
– School Library Journal

“I got a huge kick out of the differences in perspective. Russel describes Kevin Land’s smile as ‘impish’, while Min says ‘smug’ … Way fun … Good pick for fans of the rest of Brent Hartinger’s books, as well as for fans of GLBT lit that doesn’t feature a gay character being run over and of course, teens who enjoy breezy romantic comedy.”
– Bookshelves of Doom


Book 4, The Russel Middlebrook Series

Geography Club’s Russel Middlebrook and his friends Min and Gunnar are back.


They’re laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise—the tendency for life to never turn out the way you expect. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot, but mysterious guy named Wade—even as he’s also drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min learns her girlfriend Leah is keeping secrets, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest obsession, documenting his entire life online.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?

The Elephant of Surprise, the latest entry in Brent Hartinger’s groundbreaking gay teen Russel Middlebrook Series, is a story of humor, romance, and danger. Before it’s over, Russel and his friends will learn that the Elephant of Surprise really does appear when you least expect him—and that when he stomps on you, it really, really hurts.


  • An Audio Book on

  • Independent Publisher Book Award (Young Adult), Bronze Medalist

  • Rainbow Award, Finalist

  • An Indie Reader “Best of 2013″ Pick


“Along with the edifying main plotline, which will appeal to readers of any age, the well-conceived subplots won’t disappoint young readers looking for the juicy gossip that runs through the series. With Russel, there’s always drama—real and perceived—but definitely no lack of love. Fans of the series will revel in this smart, quirky YA novel that’s ripe with substance beyond the surface.”
 Kirkus Reviews

“This is an unusual storyline, but, like Russel, readers may find themselves intrigued by Wade’s [freegan anti-consumerist] lifestyle and beliefs. Secondary plot lines (including one about Russel’s possible reconciliation with his first love, Kevin) support the core drama, and teens will continue to enjoy Russel’s ever-humorous narration. After eating barbecued raccoon with Wade, Russel says, ‘If it doesn’t sound romantic, you’ll just have to take my word for it, because it totally, TOTALLY was.’”
– Publishers Weekly

“Like a warm chocolate cookie right out of the oven!”
– Buried in Books

“LOVED it. Funny, a lot of heart. Another YA delight from the guy who brought us Geography Club.”
– John Schwartz, author of Oddly Normal.

The Russel Middlebrook Series is “unique and special. Hartinger’s storytelling is alive and uplifting.”
– Children’s Literature

“I also continue to admire and celebrate the series for its matter-of-fact approach to diversity. It’s the first time I can recall ever having read the candid thoughts of a gay white male regarding his attraction to a black male that wasn’t loaded down with stereotyping and racial junk. Russel briefly wonders to himself what it would feel like to kiss a black person but dismisses this as an errant thought and simply pursues the object of his affection without reservation. This stuck me as quietly, but thrillingly revolutionary.”

“I loved this book to bits … Russel is a narrator it’s a pleasure to spend time with. He’s honest — often touchingly self-deprecating and always hilariously self-conscious. … This is the kind of teen book I absolutely adore. Funny, thought-provoking and entertaining. Read it!”
– Chicklish

“All the charm of the earlier books in the series, but a richer read. As always with this series, we’re given a story of real-life teenage issues that doesn’t lose the wonderful freshness and humor of youth.”
– Outsmart Magazine

“A simple, wonderful story … as accessible and reader-friendly as possible. I love this. Oftentimes, particularly lately, stories in the Young Adult genre are riddled with drama and teenage angst. Some of them overly so. This was a lovely change of pace for me, as I suspect it will be for all those who read it. There are, without a doubt, poignant moments in this book, … [but] underlying it all is this wonderful sense of youthful humor.”

“A highly entertaining teen soap opera as much as a very instructive socio-economic investigation.”
– The Peaceable Table






Project Pay Day Pic.jpg

“Our parents just said we had to get summer jobs. They didn’t say what summer jobs!”

Dave and his two best friends, Hannah and Curtis, are looking forward to a summer of complete freedom, but their parents have another idea: they insist that the three fifteen-year-olds get summer jobs.

But the friends come up with a plan: Why not invent fake jobs to get their parents off their backs? The trouble is, their parent are going to want to see them bringing in real money. And that means finding a way to get-rich-quick, but without breaking the law, and without doing any actual work.

The summer passes and Dave, Curtis, and Hannah try a long list of schemes: trying to catch bank robbers to win the reward; scientifically calculating the “correct” number of jelly beans in a contest jar; finding and exploring a network of underground smugglers' tunnels; and even diving for sunken treasure.

But nothing ever goes according to plan, and they never quite get the money they need.

Soon summer is almost over, and they have no choice but to solve one last local mystery, or face the consequences of their actions, which includes their parents breaking up the trio for good.

(For readers age 10 and up)


  • Produced as a Feature Film, written by the author (coming in 2020)!

  • A Ritchie’s Pick

  • A Flamingnet Top Choice

  • A 2009 Washington State Library “Washington Reads” Pick

  • A Beehive Award (Utah) Nominee

  • A Thumbs Up Award Nominee

  • A Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee


“A hilarious story filled with mishaps, close calls, and outrageous adventures…The novel will be especially appealing to middle school boys.”
– School Library Journal

“The friendship, lightly and expertly depicted, drives the book, while their smartly plotted moneymaking schemes are creative, highjinks-filled, and hilariously almost effective.”
– Horn Book Review

“The characters ring true, and teens will appreciate that the trio puts more effort into evading work than they would have expended at a real job. An amusing story with great teen appeal.”
– Booklist

“Marked by sly wit and a certain old-fashioned jauntiness, this tale of three chums on a quest for indolence strikes many a wish-fulfillment fancy…Hartinger blends urban legend with the actual history of Tacoma’s routing of its Chinese community (author’s note included) to craft an irresistible setting (who wouldn’t want to explore lost tunnels under a city in search of treasure?), humorous episodes tinged with mild danger, and a light-hearted mystery”

“This comedy of errors builds quickly and surely, with each potential scheme ending in disaster yet spawning ever new possibilities. Hartinger is relentless in ramping up the tension on his young characters. He does so with wit and flair, moreover, building into the mix an episode from the racially troubled history of Tacoma, Washington…Lovable, flawed, and genuinely charming, Hartinger’s characters drive the story…here is a funny, realistic yet whimsical story delivered up with loving care.”

“This book was hilarious and had me turning pages to see what the next plan would be. The best part was that none of it ever felt like it was unrealistic — I really believed that the crazy adventures and money schemes could actually work! Author Brent Hartinger has the perfect voice of teen boys. His characters sounded exactly like the teens I know.”
– GreenBeanTeenQueen

“An ingenious plot with a little Tom Sawyer, a little Homer Price, and a lotta laughs! That’s what I call ‘sweet!’”
– Michael Cart, Booklist columnist

“It all comes together exquisitely in a fast-paced, fun, and occasionally freaky tale on (and sometimes under) the streets and shores of Tacoma. In addition to all of the action, I especially love how Hartinger has thoroughly woven an important and unrecognized historical event into the heart of the story.”
– Richie Partington,

This book is not currently available, but will soon be back in a revised “movie edition".



Deep in the heart of the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.

(For readers age 14 & up.)

Listen to me discuss this book


  • An Edgar Award Nominee, 2017

  • YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, 2017

  • An “Editor’s Pick” for August 2016

  • A Barnes & Noble “Most Anticipated Book” for August 2016


“What begins as a game of Three Truths and a Lie quickly devolves into a web of suspicions, secrets, and sinister intents. In a taut story whose atmosphere is reminiscent of Stephen King, Hartinger presents readers with a psychological thriller and suspenseful mystery. Misdirection and twists continue from the first page to the last … For readers who want more books to have them on the edge of their seats as they read.”
– VOYA [Starred Review]

“Placing a couple of gay boys at the center of a psychological thriller is a refreshing spin on a very old trope. The story is suspenseful, with excellent pacing, self-aware humor, and a twist that Hartinger pulls off as well as the best slasher films.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“Amazing … I was left in a daze from how perfectly complex and unpredictable the story truly was. You literally won’t see any of it coming. And, even better, there are no loose ends or plot holes; everything made sense in the end! 5/5 [or] 6/5, [which is] mathematically impossible.”

“Hartinger’s novel is a gripping mystery written in a straightforward way that will appeal to reluctant readers. The unadorned language propels the plot swiftly forward and keeps readers engaged. The descriptive sex scenes make this book suitable for a mature high school audience. VERDICT An intense mystery perfect for reluctant readers.”
– School Library Journal

“Rife with sexual tension … Hartinger’s depiction of the complexities of teen relationships, particularly gay ones, is on point.”
– Publishers Weekly

“The year’s best mystery.”
– Sensible Reason Magazine

“Excellent … leaves you guessing to the very end … You’ll never see the ending coming. It’ll blow your mind.”
– Forever Young Adult

“Readers will not be able to put this suspenseful book down until they find out who is tormenting the teens.”
– School Library Connection

“Fun and suspenseful … an ideal beach read.”
– He Said Magazine



Two boys, both at a crossroads...


Harlan and Manny are both seventeen years old, but they couldn’t be more different. Harlan is an athlete with a beautiful girlfriend, the son of a powerful U.S. Senator, and possibly the most popular kid in his high school. Meanwhile, Manny is a quirky theater geek, the son of a struggling single father, and one of the school’s least popular kids. And yet, Harlan and Manny both share the same sense of foreboding, a feeling that something is not right in each of their lives.

They have something else in common as well, even if they don’t know it. Fourteen years ago, when they were both three years old, a tragedy occurred — an accident that would link the two boys together forever, even as it ultimately drove them apart. It’s an event that both of them barely remember, but it still haunts them in the form of Harlan’s premonitions and Manny’s nightmares. Somehow both boys know that nothing will ever be right until they can each unravel the secret of the terrifying instant that lies at the center of both their lives.

(For readers age 12 & up)

A new edition, completely revised by the author!


  • Optioned for Development as a Feature Film

  • A #1 Amazon Bestseller

  • A Richie’s Pick

  • A “Best of 2006″

  • A Genrefluent “Best of 2006″

  • A New York Public Library “Book for the Teen Age”

  • A Michael Cart “Nothing but the Best” Top YA Title of 2006

  • A Maryland “Great Book”


“Two high school students—one a popular athlete and Senator’s son, the other a geeky outsider—are troubled, by premonitions and nightmares respectively. In alternate chapters, they are brought to an astonishing surprise ending, unlikely to be anticipated but fairly clued for the reader detective. The immensely talented author is a master of structure, but even without the stunt conclusion, the well-realized characters would grip readers of all ages.” (Highest Rating)
– Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

“Suspense builds as the ominous dreams become more intense and each boy struggles to find a way past their fears. Parallels and double meanings abound in this tricky, but satisfying, double narrative. It`s all about fate and connections for the grand and the humble.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“This is a taut, skillfully woven psychological thriller with an ending they’ll never see coming; fans of coming age stories and clever plots will be absorbed by this haunting parable.”
– The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

“There’s a surprise twist at the end: talk about a fork in the road!…This taut and clever thriller by the author of [three other books] will appeal to mystery and suspense fans.”
– Kliatt

“The novel’s surprising ending will inspire many to reread the story immediately, picking up on clues that they might have missed the first time around. In addition to being well-plotted, though, this suspenseful novel also includes genuinely thought-provoking questions about why we are who we are, and how the smallest choices may have the largest consequences.”

“The minor characters are nicely drawn … Best of all, though, is the edge-of-fantasy feel that will make readers ask, ‘What if?’”
– Booklist

“A brilliant twist near the end makes their worlds collide in a moment of epiphany. Grand & Humble is a wonderful story told with a sure and able hand. It is both a whodunit with tinges of the paranormal that tells the tale of two boys who have more in common than they could ever imagine and an allegorical tale of growing up.”
– Crime Spree Magazine

“Like a guided tour up the rickety, shadowy staircase in a haunted house, we follow Hartinger’s tale, hearts pounding, until he reveals the ultimate collision of fates that will make you think twice about typecasting anyone ever again.”
– South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Riveting…As soon as I read the amazing ending, I went back and re-read the book from this new perspective. In too many young adult books, the characters are stick figures spouting teen-speak. In Hartinger’s books, they are respected, realistic individuals.”
– Puget Sound Parent



"There's something in the dark!"


Zach lives with his grandparents on a remote island in Puget Sound in Washington State. With only his little brother, Gilbert, to keep him company, Zach feels cut off from the world. But when Gilbert is kidnapped, Zach tries the only thing he can think of to find him: astral projection. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm—a shadow place. While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory, another astral traveler who’s intriguing (and cute).

As Zach and Emory track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows, but each moment could be Gilbert’s last. Even worse, there’s a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it’s hungry for Zach.

(For readers age 12 and up)


“Sometimes you pick up a novel that hits a narrative sweet spot, and Shadow Walkers is one of those. … I devoured the book, a good story for any age.”
– NPR’s All Things Considered

“Hartinger’s latest combines mystery, romance, and the paranormal…[a] quick genre bender that has something for everyone.”

“The perfect blend of horror, adventure, and romance. … And let me say, the creature in this book will haunt you. I don’t care if you are eight or eighty, this is a well thought out and well conceived baddie. Once or twice I was sure I felt the chill of its presence as I read the book. It’s that well done. Creepy, horror, scary, creepy, terrifying and did I say creepy? … [And] I really, really liked Zach. He wasn’t whiny, he wasn’t annoying and a lot of teen protagonists can be. … Just a wonderful book.”
– Daemon’

“Hartinger’s 8th novel deftly meditates on isolation, interpersonal connectivity, and how drastically the Internet has changed modern teen life. …This kind of content was unimaginable ten years ago; since his first novel Geography Club, Hartinger’s been at the forefront of the quiet revolution moving past stories that center around being gay, and infusing GLBT characters into mainstream Young Adult fiction, balancing gay characters that aren’t abrasively off-putting to librarians, teachers, and parents, yet at the same time speak to the young readers that so desperately need popular representation. That in itself is pretty awesome.”
– Lambda Literary

“Hartinger presents an entertaining mingling of coming-of-age and supernatural. His approach toward homosexuality is refreshing … And through a veil of mild violence, teen fantasy, and otherworldly terror, this tale reminds readers of more meaningful ways of communicating.”
– Kirkus Reviews




Fifteen years old and parentless, Lucy Pitt has spent the last eight years being shifted from one foster home to another. Now she’s ended up at Kindle Home, a place for foster kids who aren‘t wanted anywhere else. Among the residents, Kindle Home is known as the Last Chance Texaco, because it’s the last stop before being shipped off to the high-security juvenile detention center on nearby Rabbit Island–better known as Eat-Their-Young Island to anyone who knows what it‘s really like.

But Lucy finds that Kindle Home is different from past group homes, and she soon decides she wants to stay. Problem is, someone is starting a series of car-fires in the neighborhood in an effort to get the house shut down. Could it be Joy, a spiteful Kindle Home resident? Or maybe it’s Alicia, the bony blond supermodel-wannabe from the local high school who thinks Lucy has stolen her boyfriend. Lucy suspects it might even be Emil, the Kindle Home therapist, who clearly has a low opinion of the kids he counsels. Whoever it is, Lucy must expose the criminal, or she’ll lose not just her new home, but her one last chance for happiness.

In the tradition of S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Louis Sachar’s Holes, Hartinger writes about a subculture of teenagers many people would like to forget, in a novel as fast-paced and provocative as his first book, Geography Club.

(For readers age 12 and up)


  • A 2005 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers

  • A Summer Read

  • An ALA “Popular Paperback”

  • A “Best of 2004″

  • A Genrefluent “Favorite of 2004″

  • A MyShelf “2004 Favorite”

  • A 2005-2006 Missouri Public Library “Best of the Best”

  • A 2006 Michigan Library “Thumbs Up!” Award Nominee

  • A 2006 Utah Library “Beehive Award” Nominee

  • An 2006-2007 Iowa “Teen Award” Nominee

  • A 2006-2007 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominee

  • A 2005 Maryland Library “Great Book”

  • A 2005-2006 Maine Student Book Award Nominee

  • A 2004 Texas HS Reading List (TAYSHAS) Pick

  • A 2007-2007 Missouri “Gateway Award” Nominee

  • CA State Dept. of Education “Recommended Literature”

  • A 2006-2007 Berkeley Book Award Nominee

  • A Girls Life Top Ten Summer Read

  • An Book of the Month


“Hartinger draws on his own previous experience as a group-home counselor to write a fast-paced, riveting story filled with multi-dimensional characters who command our admiration as they struggle against their personal demons…This book should have wide appeal to parents and adolescents alike. Grade: A”
– Rocky Mountain News

The Last Chance Texaco has everything a reader could want…Never have I read a book that screamed so loudly to be made into a movie…Don’t pass this one up!”

“A fast-moving, heartfelt story…beautifully conceived and executed, very well written [with] characters who seem very real…brutally honest [but] full of hope…You won’t be taking a chance with The Last Chance Texaco. It will reward you on every page.”
– (Oregon) Statesman Journal

“Hartinger clearly knows the culture [of group home life]…The talk is lively, and the whodunnit will keep readers hooked to the end.”
– Booklist

“Readers will root for Lucy and come away with a greater understanding of the complexities of group homes and their inhabitants. Hartinger excels at giving readers an insider’s view of the subculture.”
– School Library Journal

“Hartinger has a wonderful ear for the diction and eye for the furniture, of all sorts…Lucy, cagey and smart, becomes a character we care about.”
– Chicago Tribune

“After dealing with kids in the system for 17 years and living with foster kids 13 years, I look very closely at books about them and usually find them wanting, but The Last Chance Texaco is right on. Hartinger captured the voices of the kids perfectly and portrays [the situation] extremely well.”
– Genrefluent

The Last Chance Texaco is a fast-paced, dramatic story, populated with authentic characters…His dialogue is pitch-perfect and his narrative is utterly believable.”
– The Bremerton Sun