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Two outsiders from opposite sides of the tracks join forces to survive that most heinous of limbos: high school.

Comedy writer and essayist Rich (Free Range Chickens, 2008, etc.) mines the adolescent postmodern humor of King Dork and Youth in Revolt and emerges with a feel-good comedy that melds the feel-good humor of the 1995 film Angus with the acerbic wit of the recent Charlie Bartlett. The book follows the trial by fire of the narrator, Seymour, an obese but grudgingly docile eighth-grader at a posh Manhattan private school. He’s the sort of kid who puts up with the school’s arcane policy of putting any student involved in a scrap in detention—which means Seymour is in detention every week just for getting beaten up. His life changes dramatically when another character, an arrogant little bastard who stands to inherit an unimaginable fortune, takes an interest in Seymour’s future. “Don’t thank me,” says Elliot. “Remember I’m not doing this out of kindness or generosity. I’m doing this purely for sport. It’s an intellectual exercise—a way to occupy my days during this hellish period of my life.” Before long Seymour is stealing test answers; accepting a devilish bargain to sneak into Harvard; and corrupting the simplistic social systems of school to rise to the top of its hierarchy, no matter what it costs. There are some filler moments, mostly involving parents, but it all comes together. Rich is always funny, and he nails the bogus solemnity of high-school social politics.

A high-school romp that John Hughes should be so lucky to direct.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6835-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2010


FictionSHLEPPING THE EXILE by Michael Wex
by Michael Wex