BOOK REPORT for Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden

Cover Story: Totally Acceptable

Adoption Certificate: Heck Yes

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Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Talky Talk: Splendiferous

Bonus Factors: Non-cloistered Nuns, Caretaker, The Little Ones

Relationship Status: A Surprisingly Awesome Date

Dear Life, You Suck

Cover Story:  Totally Acceptable

It’s simple; it’s bold; it’s fun. This cover is definitely more on the Y scale of YA, but since it doesn’t feature two people kissing, a giant face, a giant eye, or anything that looks like a tampon ad in Seventeen magazine, it’s a damn miracle to me.

Plus, reading a book like this in public DEF had strangers asking me all about it, and while normally I hate that sort of thing, it proved the perfect opportunity to YAngelize the heck out of this book.

The Deal:

Cricket Cherpin (yeah, I know) has absolutely nothing going for him, the way he sees it. He’s constantly in trouble for fighting, the nuns who run the Home for Boys in which he lives are always on his case, and the best he can hope for upon turning 18 is advancing to a full-time drug dealer.

But even though he tries to hide it, Cricket has a lot more going on for him than a surly attitude and a wicked scar. His writing assignments have attracted the interest of his English teacher and his defense of the younger boys in his orphanage has attracted the interest of the forthright and adorable Wynona. But will Cricket have the courage to make a future for himself, or will he be forever doomed to repeat his parents’ mistakes?

adoption

Adoption Certificate:   Heck Yes

Occasionally there are YA heroes and heroines who are so troubled, so broken and so angry that it just would not do to offer them a flimsy BFF charm, mostly because they’d probably throw it back in your face. No, for these kids, we can only offer to adopt them and lift them up from their present circumstances.

Not that Cricket’s current circumstances are bad, mind you! If he opened his eyes to the world around him, he’d see that he’s surrounded by people who love him and are fighting for him. So, instead of adopting him, maybe I could just be a Big Sister type and take him to concerts and teach him that adults can be cool instead of just horrible, crack-addled dicks.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cricket and Wynona’s budding relationship is definitely sweet AND swoony, but it’s also VERY teenage boy-centered. In other words, I had to read way more about boners than any person above the age of 13 would ever wish to. 

That said, their relationship served perfectly in this novel—it wasn’t an add-on, nor was it a way to create characterization where none existed previously (*cough* Twilight *cough*).  Wynona doesn’t save Cricket, but she gives him a reason to try to save himself.

Talky Talk: Splendiferous

Cricket’s big on making up words or transfiguring two words, and while at first it can be a bit trying to adapt to the narrative style of the novel, after a short time this book flows like butter. Blagden does a great job of hinting only slightly at Cricket’s past for most of the novel, saving the big (and heart-wrenching) reveal for so late in the book that the reader finds him or herself loving Cricket without it. 

The only complaint I have with this novel is that Blagden wrapped up things a bit too neatly—in real life, the bad parts of a person’s life rarely ever do them the courtesy of leaving so neatly.

Bonus Factor: Non-cloistered Nuns

Nuns

A couple of years ago, I used to live near a non-cloistered nun. Or maybe I lived near where she worked; I don’t know. I used to see her while I was driving to work every morning, and she’d be driving her beat-up Toyota which was covered in bumper stickers proclaiming peace and a greener earth, rocking out to God only knows (ha) in her wimple and habit. And she always made me so happy because I knew that wherever she was off to, she was going to do her best to make the world a better place. 

So, yeah, I have a bit of a love affair with nuns, and Mother Mary, the kickass nun who runs Cricket’s boys’ home, is strict, loving and has a potty mouth. I want her to be my pal!

Bonus Factor: Caretaker

Groundskeeper

About the only adult Cricket thinks is worth something is Caretaker, an old Army vet who takes care of the grounds at the boys’ home. Caretaker teaches Cricket how to box and handle a schoolyard brawl, which comes in handy more often than you’d think.

Bonus Factor:  The Little Ones

Rascals

Gah, I love the Little Ones so much! The Little Ones are all the other boys in Cricket’s boys’ home—he’s much older than the other boys, so he’s taken up a big brother role in the house. The Little Ones are adorable and spunky and good-hearted and I sort of want a companion novel just about them.

Casting Call:

Ezra Miller

Ezra Miller as Cricket

What hasn’t Ezra Miller been great in? He definitely has the broody quality that Cricket needs.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez as Wynona

I am really interested to see Spring Breakers, an indie movie starring Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez and…James Franco. Apparently it’s awesome, and I bet part of the awesomeness involves the disconnect from seeing Disney princesses as wild-partying crazies. If Selena can do that, why can’t she play Wynona?

Lawrence Fishburne

Lawrence Fishburne as Caretaker

Caretaker has to have gravitas, you know? But he also has to look like someone who could wallop you in a fight. Let’s get it on, Lawrence.

Relationship Status:  A Surprisingly Awesome Date

This book surprised the heck out of me! To be honest, I thought that it’d be a nice pity date; a dinner and a few drinks with a book that had a sordid story to tell. So consider how shocked I was when I raced through my time with this book and mourned when we had to say good night. Our date was intense and emotional, and you’d better believe that I wish it could have been longer.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Harcourt. Dear Life, You Suck is in stores March 26th, 2013.