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by Tom Leveen

Age Range: 14 - 16

Pub Date: April 23rd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-375-87005-7
Publisher: Random House

Nothing gives a boy moral superiority like being awkwardly aroused by the least popular girl in high school.

Tyler’s friends call him “jerk,” “idiot,” “dick” and “asshead.” Could he possibly be that bad? Is it that much of a problem that he’s been dating sweet Sydney Barrett for years while crushing hard on friendless Becky Webb, shunned by everyone else in school for being the town slut? In a narrative that interleaves exposition-heavy flashbacks with his present (wasted in the park, drunk on butterscotch-pudding shooters), Tyler describes the history of his relationship with Becky. Perhaps that should be his nonrelationship, because he has spent years being unkind to Sydney while gazing dreamily at Becky’s tattoo from across the cafeteria. Tyler’s tortured overtures to Becky would be more believably redemptive if he didn’t share in his classmates’ double standard of shaming, needing to find a reason for Becky’s sexual activities before he can find her worthy. Tyler, apparently, deserves a medal for choosing not to have meaningless sex with a suffering friend; what a hero.

If Becky actually were a manic pixie dream girl, there’d at least be some whimsy breaking up the dragging, self-centered, deeply unkind angst. (Fiction. 14-16)