In this darkly humorous sequel, Koertge continues the adventures of 16-year-old Ben Bancroft, “the Spaz,” the kid with cerebral palsy readers met in the insightful and engaging Stoner & Spaz (2001).
At the close of the first book, Ben was enjoying the sweet smell of success with the premiere of his first documentary, High School Confidential, and a beautiful girl, A.J., had just hit on him. His happiness is short-lived, because Colleen, Ben’s sharp-tongued friend who is in rehab, leaves the premiere to hook up with some random guy to get stoned. This book picks up a few days later, with Ben still confused about his feelings about Colleen. He loves her beauty and wit and the fact that she totally gets him, but he knows Grandma will never approve. A.J. represents everything his grandmother wants for him, but why does Ben feel like her project rather than a friend whenever they're together? Koertge writes crisp dialogue and ably captures both Ben’s bewilderment as he moves from loser recluse to Mr. Popularity and his complex feelings toward A.J. and Colleen. Ben’s long-absent mother’s appearance offers an opportunity to recognize the value of his grandmother. Movie buffs will appreciate the references to films, a hallmark of Ben’s first outing.
Readers familiar with the first book will be glad to see Ben’s return; newcomers will be glad they finally met him. (Fiction. 14 & up)