Sharp and genuinely funny, this YA novel certainly "isn't the love story it's supposed to be."
Hiding out in a California hotel room 3,000 miles from his home in New Jersey, 17-year-old narrator Jim sets out to write the real story of what happened, as opposed to the one that's plastered across newspapers and splashed all over TV. It all started when Jim's mother ran away from home, leaving Jim upset, confused and flustered. At the same time, Jim realizes he's in love with his best friend and celebrity wannabe Zanny. He e-mails Zanny anonymously, and she eventually tells him that she knows he's the sender but that she deletes each one after reading it. But (uh-oh, Jim), she printed them first. Horrified that he'll be found out by others and used by Zanny as the attention-getter she's sought her entire life, Jim drunkenly invades her house, finds the printed emails, and, as Zanny's parents call the police, escapes out the window and into a tree. The police arrive and, stuck in the tree, Jim furiously shoves the e-mails down his throat. A passerby spies him, though, and snaps a photo of him as he's putting a paper with the huge-font word LOVE visible on it. Jim, to his dismay, becomes the subject of a giant human-interest story that the public eats up. Zanny finally has her 15 minutes and, manipulated by her, Jim suddenly finds himself on a national media tour. Liquor, sex, and betrayals of and by various friends and relatives are excised from Zanny's saccharine (and inaccurate) bestseller. Now, back in the California hotel room, having escaped the spotlight, Jim puts on paper the real story. Is his book called Idiot!? Perhaps . . .
The author thankfully avoids a pat ending, adding a dash of hope to the story's sense of humor–despite a frustrating lack of communication between just about everyone.