A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists! Darren hasn’t had an easy year. There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing. Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared. Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is: 1. painful 2. unavoidable 3. ridiculously complicated 4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
Think of the protagonist of any old-school John Green book. Super awkward, kinda endearing. Now imagine being inside that guy’s head ALL THE TIME, without the endearing part. Now imagine that going on for 500+ pages. In lists (because why not, right?!). This book was a death trudge to get through. I’ve read this plot line before — socially awkward, naive early-teen boy deals with a whacked out family and becomes infatuated with a manic pixie dream girl. NEXT. To be honest though, my main gripe with this story is the lack of likeable characters. I don’t connect with Darren. Nate is a deadbeat. Smoking is not cool (what’s up with all these stories glamourizing cigarettes these days? Please stop). Darren’s parents are too neurotic and unrealistic. Zoey and Rachel are both too MUCH. I get that they’re all young and dumb and feel things so much more, but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at their insanity. Like covering up sharpie drawings with a plastic bag? It could be cute, but I don’t need that level of detail. Does Darren have any interests? I feel like things just HAPPEN to him. It gets old. Unfortunately, the story just dragged on and on and ON. If it were half as rambly, I’d probably enjoy it twice as much. I even put off writing this review. That never happens to me!
- Any John Green book + 10x the angst, awkwardness, and neuroticism
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