FNL Character Rating: Luke Cafferty/Landry Clarke*!!!!
(* I tend to be biased against Landry because he looks a lot like one of my ex-boyfriends, BUT his nerd-to-football player persona works for this rating. And I didn’t even necessarily like the main character of the book, so that works too. And I ADORE Luke, and his cute, sensitive persona works for this rating too.)
On to the Actual Review…
So, I’m at this point in my life where puberty is far enough in my past that I find teenagers bewildering. I find myself too old to relate to them anymore. When I see them hanging out at the bus stop in front of where I work, I think to myself old people thoughts like, “Why are those kids yelling while having a conversation when they’re standing right next to each other?!” Or, “Why are they texting each other when they’re standing right next to each other?!” Or, “What’s with those pants? Are they pants? Their parents paid for those pant-things AND let them wear them in PUBLIC?!”
Then I read this book and remembered what it was to be a teenager.
I usually block it out, but author Geoff Herbach makes remembering it worth my time. Honestly, I’ve never read a book that captures the bewildering (and in this case, hilarious) awkwardness of being a teenager as well as this one does.
The main character, Felton Reinstein, aka Rein Stone, aka Squirrel Nut, is 15 years old. He was raised by his mom Jerri, whom he calls Jerri at her insistence, and his primary memory of his dad is HORRIFYING. It’s the end of sophmore year and his best, and pretty much only, friend Gus is leaving to visit his sick grandmother in Venezuela. His 13 year old little brother Andrew is precocious, but still a little brother and calls Felton things like “Ass-Brain” when provoked in a way that only older brothers can provoke.
On top of all that, Felton’s body is changing like crazy. Previously the butt of jokes at school, Felton’s body sprouts. He discovers that he is naturally fast and athletic. Suddenly, the jocks and school coaches are clamoring for him to join their teams and calling him a Division I football prospect.
My co-worker Robin mentioned that when her daughter turned thirteen, all of the sudden, she didn’t recognize her daughter anymore. Her daughter didn’t look the same or act the same as she did before. Robin said when she looked at her daughter during that time, she thought to herself, “WHO ARE YOU?!?!?!”
This book reminded me that teenagers ask themselves (maybe not literally, but they do) the same question everyday and why. Felton looks different, but doesn’t necessarily feel different, except for his increased appetite. But then because he looks different, his peers begin treating him differently, and tell him he should act differently, and then he finds himself acting differently, but still doesn’t necessarily feel differently, and doesn’t necessarily like acting differently and wait what?! Who is he?! Is he different? Should he be different?!
Oh yeah, and then his mom and brother start acting strangely in very different ways and there’s no one around to guide Felton. Or buy him food. And there’s the beautiful piano player living in his best friend Gus’ house for the summer.
Felton’s baffled reactions and observations towards his changing circumstances are amusingly authentic, as are his infuriating teenage impulses to get angry and/or withdraw while his family situation deteriorates.
So what’s a growing boy—who’s a dork to himself on the inside, but a D-1 football prospect on the outside—to do?
Read and find out.
Verdict: Highly Recommended