BOOK REPORT for The Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack

Cover Story: Viking Cute
BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Real Boy
Bonus Factor: Unexpected Friendships
Relationship Status: Maybe in a Few Years 

Cover Story: Viking Cute

A cutesy viking is kind of an oxymoron when you think about the actual history of vikings, but this one with his too-big hat that’s slightly askew is pretty dang adorable. (It also fits in nicely with the story, but that will become clear later.)

The Deal:

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Lawrence Barry has screwed up one too many times, and he’s this close to being shipped off to military school. His last chance at redemption involves mentoring a Freshman Norwegian foreign-exchange student and staying away from his burnout friends. At first, Lawrence hates this new version of his life and does whatever he can to avoid anyone realizing he’s changing. But then he agrees to help an old friend win over a girl, and someone steals the head of the high school’s viking mascot and starts framing him for ruining Homecoming preparations. Lawrence must figure out how to help his mentee, his old friend, and himself before everything falls apart.

BFF Charm: Roger Murtaugh

Lawrence seems like a pretty typical teenage boy: worried about school, dealing with parents, trying to understand girls, etc. But he’s also completely oblivious to what’s happening around him, thanks probably in part to his burnout status and tendency to get high and or drunk at the drop of a hat. I liked him well enough by the end of the book, but at the start, man, I wanted to physically shake some sense into him. I am definitely too old for his kind of shizz.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Lawrence hooked up with resident Goth girl Zoe a while ago, but has ignored her since. He didn’t exactly mean to do so, but in the light of the day, Zoe’s quite scary, and Lawrence can’t decide if he likes her or hates her. And then there’s Audrey, a girl who’s invisible at school, but stands out when she’s in costume for her LARPing events. Lawrence gets in his own way with both girls and both situations, but he eventually starts down a path that might eventually lead to something good.

Talky Talk: Real Boy

On the surface, the level of hijinks in The Boomerang Effect seems a little outlandish, but not too over the top. And as much as Lawrence had me gritting my teeth, he was a believable teenage boy. Additionally, the secondary characters are wacky, the teachers somewhat trope-ish, and Lawrence’s parents oblivious, but they all mean well. Gordon Jack has written a novel that is part ridiculous, part endearing and part cringy, but added all together, the parts make up a novel that’s surprisingly realistic in its sincerity.

Bonus Factor: Unexpected Friendships

At the start of the novel, Lawrence’s only friends are the guys with whom he can get high or drunk. They don’t have much more than that in common. Slowly, Lawrence realizes that maybe he should expand his horizons, and that the other people in his life, the people he’s forced to hang out with or only hangs out with when it’s convenient, are actually the ones he wants to be around. Friends come in all sizes and shapes, and it’s awesome to see Lawrence realize that.

Casting Call:

Dylan Sprayberry as Lawrence

Relationship Status: Maybe in a Few Years

Although you were witty and charming, Book, we’re not at the same places in our lives right now. Perhaps in a few years when you’ve done some growing we could get together again and reconnect.

The Boomerang Effect is available now. 

Mandy lives in Austin, TX, where she's a technical writer by day and a pop culture junkie by night. When she's not ensconced in a book for Forever Young Adult, Mandy can be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.