A smart-aleck teenager who yearns to escape his dilapidated New Jersey town becomes a high school escort in Bloom’s debut novel.
Brooks Rattigan—a superficial yet hardworking letter carrier’s son in his final year of high school—is desperate to attain upper-middle-class comfort. After the white teen offers to take a schoolmate’s dateless cousin to homecoming and scores over 300 bucks from the girl’s grateful parents in the process, he decides to expand his impromptu dating service to secure his path to Columbia University. Soon, Brooks is in the stand-in business, offering himself to girls from affluent families for senior year’s most important social events. Complications come in the form of two girls: Celia Lieberman, a girl with overbearing parents, and Shelby Pace, a socialite goddess. Though the setup seems entertaining enough, the narrative fails to capitalize on its promise to dissect high-class society, underserving its satirical wit in favor of high-strung melodrama. As Brooks slips deeper into the evidently all-white world of the superrich, he finds it hard to balance his demanding, college-bound life with the lies he spins to fit in. Brooks starts off a likable character, but his progressively less-than-admirable behavior is exhausting after 200 pages. And that’s halfway through the novel.
A half-funny, half-tired novel with a fine protagonist to half-root for. (Fiction. 14-17)