“Everybody’s so full of shit,” declares the epigraph of this heart-pounding and heartbreaking novel, setting the tone of the narrative: cynical, disappointed and slyly funny.
Gerald “the Crapper” Faust has not yet outlived the notoriety he achieved at age 5 by defecating on the kitchen table during their stint on Network Nanny, a “reality” television show that edited out most of the truth about his dysfunctional family life. Gerald has struggled to manage his anger in the 12 years since with the help of a few compassionate adults at school and work, but at its root, his rage remains unmitigated. In suspenseful flashbacks, Gerald details the damage wrought by his oldest sister, Tasha, a spoiled sociopathic despot. When he meets Hannah, a troubled beauty who sees him as he is instead of as he was, he cannot resist the possibility of genuine connection, despite the dangers. King deftly depicts the angst of first love in all its awkward, confusing glory. Even when she trots out the archetypical road-trip-as-journey-to-self-discovery, King writes with an honesty that allows Hannah and Gerald to call each other on their bullshit and ultimately arrive at an intimacy that feels neither forced nor false.
This is no fairy-tale romance, but a compulsively readable portrait of two imperfect teens learning to trust each other and themselves. (Fiction. 14 & up)