An angry teen works out his issues.
Tomorrow will be the 1-year anniversary of Kirby’s worst day: the day his sister Melanie died. Since then Kirby has withdrawn from the world, letting his sorrow fester as he watches Die Hard over and over again. The only personal connections Kirby still maintains are his friendships with Jake and PJ. PJ is popular and likable; Jake, on the other hand, is “a real asshole.” The three boys get together for an evening of mischief, and things quickly go south. The next day at school Kirby struggles to avoid not just his own feelings about what happened, but also the school jocks looking for payback. The ensuing novel effectively externalizes Kirby’s emotional arc as he twists and turns to push himself forward. Kirby’s sullen anger could easily become repetitive, but the author cuts it with plenty of humor and a few moments of clarity, creating an engaging read. Less artfully drawn are the tertiary characters: Kirby’s parents and the school administrators are one-note obstacles for Kirby and his friends to move around but never truly engage with. In the end, Kirby achieves his presumed catharsis and readers will feel for him, but the story isn’t as rich as it could have been. PJ is the only character whose ethnicity is mentioned (he’s Puerto Rican); all others can be assumed white.
An irreverent journey through despondency with some minor flaws. (Fiction. 12-17)