Genre: M/M Young Adult
Summary: In the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye, this darkly comic story of a young man’s very reluctant coming-of-age paints an indelible portrait of a teenage hero holding out for a better grownup world.
Review: I was a bit disappointed with this book. I tend to have an overdeveloped need to like the main character and I couldn't muster much enthusiasm for this kid.
After noting several positive reviews of this book from people whose reviews I find reliable, I sort of had high expectations for this that were not fulfilled. This is probably my fault as several very reputable literary critics also gave this high marks but it just wasn't to my taste. One critic even went so far as to call this funny. I failed to find the funny in this book.
The author can write well and the details are true but overall this felt like an uniteresting photograph taken by a middling photographer with a good camera. The details and the storytelling were clear and sharp but the subject matter just didn't capture my interest.
Perhaps part of the problem is that I once had a writer for a roommate that was too much like this kid. He even went to Brown. But he was always so effete and world weary. The room mate exhausted all of my patience for this "woe is me" forever forlorn attitude.
James, the kid here, was financially and culturally overindulged but didn't seem to get much attention from either of his parents. Even the family dog Miró couldn't be bothered to be a dog and give him much affection. Perhaps there's some appeal for a Post Bush/Post 9/11 Era Holden Caulfield, but I just didn't empathize. He was also a loner and felt uncomfortable around people his own age.
This book sort of reminded me a bit about that quip about how the French speak French... It doesn't matter WHAT you say, so long as you structure it correctly and pronounce it well. This kid with his over-attention to grammar couldn't help but remind me of that.
The few times that the kid seemed the most normal were when he was visiting his grandmother but at the very end of the book when he talks about her death, it's still with a semi-lobotomized casualness without the level of regret, I would expect as normal.
Another reviewer thought that James was presented without the angst that makes it tedious. I just felt that James couldn't muster the energy to generate much angst.
Still another said in his review that he wanted to give him (James) a hug. I wanted to slap the kid and tell him...
He's young he's healthy, he's reasonably well off, he's reasonably smart and apparently good looking. He should learn to lighten up and just enjoy himself more. Quit taking everything so seriously.
I felt that the sessions with the kid's therapist were not all that interesting except as a way to point out that not every thereapist is right for every patient.
One final thought... I wanted to take the kid and shake him. He was doubting whether he even wanted to go to college. He shouldn't go as he's not in the right frame of mind for it. He should travel, he should work a bit and spend sometime outside that high pressure, neurosis incubator that is Manhattan, perhaps a grand tour of Europe or a stint in the peace corps or some such.