A stoner in the process of reforming is pressured to act as a mentor for a new, younger student at his high school in this comedic novel.
First-person narrator Lawrence is the privileged son of two successful but neglectful parents who can't even be bothered to attend a meeting about his possible expulsion from school. His lawyer father does, however, write a threatening letter to the principal, which keeps Lawrence enrolled. He’s assigned by his school counselor to help Spencer, who’s from Norway, as a means to show his good faith to follow the rules. Lawrence is also newly sober, after using pot constantly for years, and begins to somewhat reluctantly fall for a girl who marches to her own drum. Lawrence's back story—he fell in with friends who valued getting high more than they valued him in an effort to shed an earlier geeky image—feels genuine, and readers will feel sympathy for him. A fair amount of his self-conscious humor is funny. However, many other elements played for laughs fall flat—such as Lawrence’s mild unease with gayness, a glaringly stereotyped Latina housekeeper, and a Vietnamese-American villain who accuses others of racial profiling when she's caught out. Characters of color are specified, leaving readers to infer that Lawrence and the rest are white.
The upbeat ending that resolves many of Lawrence's struggles is unsurprising and fits well, but there are major flaws here that will turn readers off. (Fiction. 14-18)