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The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know

no. 1, Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years - Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years, no. 1

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


"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 in 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.

Praise for Brent Hartinger

"Hits the narrative sweet spot."
- NPR's All Things Considered

"Downright refreshing."
- USA Today

“The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know is 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

Brent Hartinger is an author, teacher, playwright, and screenwriter. Geography Club, the book in which Russel Middlebrook first appears (as a teenager), is also a successful stage play and a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula.

In 1990, Brent helped found one of the world's first gay teen support groups, in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. In 2005, he co-founded the entertainment website, which was sold to MTV/Viacom in 2006. He now lives in Seattle with his husband, Michael Jensen.

Customer Reviews

Yup! Another Good One.

When I first read that Brent Hartinger was releasing another Russel Middlebrook story, I was ecstatic. I immediately placed a preorder and patiently waited for the release. To my delight and I'm not ashamed to admit this, a little squeal, when I received the preorder email yesterday saying that my book was available for download. My new book was at my finger tips. I may have sneaked in a couple of chapters at work but let's keep that a secret. I finished the entire book yesterday and I'm sad that I managed to go through it so quickly. Next time I’m definitely going to pace myself and enjoy the story more.

I've read the majority of Brent's work and have throughly enjoyed all his stories. This is no different, meeting Russel again is nice, little different, since he’s an adult now. Since i’m not a teenager any more, I could only recall my experience and understand. Now that Russel has grown I can really relate to the hardship: 2 jobs to make a living, not having found a directions, stressing about how you feel like everyone has it together. You read through he's struggles and you just think, "I know exactly how he feels!”.

I wish a little more emphasis had been put on Kevin and Colin’s relationship. I know it may seem trite and cliche but it would have been great to have a little bit of a triangle going on. Kevin coming to terms with his love for Russel, Colin getting jealous, Russel making sense of it all. Ahhhh young love.

I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more about Russel and Kevin. We only got a snippet of what they had together and I really want to read about them and their relationship. Here’s to the second book! Can’t wait.


Very true to the characters and perfectly captures the feelings that come with living through your twenties. Loved it!


Totally love the tales of Russel and Kevin. Hoping there are more.

Other Books in This Series

The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know
View in iTunes
  • $2.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Gay
  • Published: Dec 15, 2014
  • Publisher: Brent Hartinger
  • Seller: Smashwords, Inc.
  • Print Length: 251 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: no. 1, Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings