Over the course of a cataclysmically awful trip, Felton Reinstein journals for his girlfriend about breakthroughs in his familial relationships.
Last year, at 15, nerdy Felton hit a growth spurt and became Stupid Fast (2011), a track star and a football star. This year, with his girlfriend Aleah in Germany, Felton must deal with his fame and the possibility that his younger brother Andrew could be falling apart. Andrew has convinced their mother to let him go to band camp, but Felton discovers that Andrew, usually the sane member of the family, has in fact run away to Florida. An impromptu road trip with erstwhile best friend Gus turns up surprising reasons for Andrew’s escape. Herbach’s sophomore effort is impenetrable to those who have not read his first, due to a complete lack of character introductions. The conceit of telling the tale of the road trip while on a different trip is a convoluted one that buries the heart of this potentially touching tale in a flabby, confusing construct few readers will enjoy. Felton’s voice is frenetic, often annoyingly self-deprecating and repetitious; his fans are the only ones who need apply.
If Herbach had avoided playing narrative games and just run with his story, this might have been something special. (Fiction. 12 & up)