For What It's Worth

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked by s.j. goslee


25819490Hilarity ensues when a slacker teen boy discovers he's gay, in this unforgettably funny YA debut.

Mike Tate is a normal dude. He and his friends have a crappy band (an excuse to drink cheap beer and rock out to the Lemonheads) and hang out in parking lots doing stupid board tricks. But when Mike's girlfriend Lisa, who knows him better than he does, breaks up with him, he realizes he's about to have a major epiphany that will blow his mind. And worse--he gets elected to homecoming court.

It's like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin' cheerleaders.

With the free spirit of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the raw voice of Winger, and characters reminiscent of Freaks & Geeks, this debut YA offers a standout voice and a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story. ~
Goodreads

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review:

This seems to be the summer of light yet poignant coming of age stories (joining my recent reads: The Great American Whatever and A Week of Mondays) My short attention span summer addled brain could not be happier.

After Mike Tate’s girlfriend unceremoniously dumps him - and informs him that they weren’t even dating – Mike’s comfortable but clueless world is about to get rocked at his realization that he might be bisexual and he just might be attracted to his mortal enemy.

Whatever. does an excellent job of navigating Mike's sexuality and how that effects his friendships. Not everyone has the perfect, supportive response to Mike's news and his friends mixed reactions combined with Mike's inner conflict felt real.

Mike is not cutesy YA perfect – he gets high, drinks (there's a lot of *acting like a girl* as something negative talk) but it’s all pretty much normal teen stuff. What won me over to Mike so utterly and completely is how he treats his little sister Rosie. She’s a little odd – marches to the beat of her own drummer if you will – and Mike absolutely adores her. He builds Lego castles, turns their living room into a giant tent to watch cartoons, finds her missing hermit crabs every time they disappear. He’s just an A+ brother. And even though he stumbles with his friendships and is a little clueless at times it’s hard not to see that in his heart he’s a good guy, trying to work out some difficult and scary things.

The one downside that might give readers pause is the 3rd person narrative. It took me a while to get used to it and until I fell hard for Mike I found it distracting. It’s almost like he’s narrating his own life from above. I wish the author made a different choice but I loved the core story, humor and how it focused on friendships, family and sexuality enough to give it a pass.

The 3rd person narrative is a bit distracting at first but if you can make it past that, Whatever was a fun read with compelling characters and relationships that were flawed yet authentic to the teenage experience.

28 comments:

  1. Oh wow, I really really want to read this right now. I can't wait to get a copy. I love these light stories about self-discovery. Thanks for the lovely review!

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    1. There's nothing wrong with a serious story about serious issues but it's also nice to read a few where you can feel the struggles but have a few laughs along the way.

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  2. You've been reading some interesting books lately, Karen.

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    1. Variety and quirky is the only getting me through summer!

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  3. I do want to read this one! I'm glad you were able to enjoy it, once you got used to the narration! It's interesting to see characters that are bisexual too, because it tends to be straight or gay.

    -Lauren

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  4. This sounds like a cute story of self discovery and I really like it that Mike sounds pretty much like your average teen in a genre that seems full of those who are gorgeous.

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    1. Yeah - I mean he can be an idiot sometimes or crass but I think that it's accurate and at his core - he's a good guy.

      I think YA tends to sanitize boys into what we want them to be.

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  5. I don't know. I feel like I won't be able to stomach some aspects of his character/personality. But I can get behind a character that's less than perfect over an unattainable, unrealistic one, for sure.

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    1. YA boys are so sanitized sometimes and I think this book hit the right note. He's a REALLLY good guy but is flawed.

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  6. I like the sound of this one. Plus, "Whatever." is a perfect title for a teen book (yea, I know there is more, but that is perfect. LOL). I do think I can get past 3rd person so I think I'd enjoy this one. Hm... I've been seeing several YA contemps that I might need to try and that isn't my genre at all. :) Stop tempting me. ;)

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    1. I've been enjoying the YA contemps this summer. They've been really light and fun but still touching and realistic.

      Mike has such a wry, sarcastic sense of humor (that I loved) so the 3rd person is distracting at first but it works.

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  7. Aww this is so cute, sounds like something I'd enjoy ^^
    Lovely review :))

    "Book Addict"

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  8. My ADD book brain this summer could use some reads like that. Whew!

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  9. Third person can be tricky but it sounds like this is worth it regardless. Great review!

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    1. Once you get used to Mike's voice it evens out and he's so funny.

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  10. I hadn't heard of this one till now. Living under a rock lately. Sigh! Sounds like a humorous read.

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    1. lol So many books are falling under my radar these days.

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  11. oh this sounds good...i don't mind third person narrative---so I would be good to go with this one.

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    1. I don't mind it either - it was just distracting in this book for some reason at first. But it was fine once I got into it.

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  12. I usually don't mind 3rd person (although part of why I read so much YA is because I do like a strong 1st person voice). I also love that it features a bisexual character, because I agree that they are very under-represented in fiction. This sounds like a great read (especially all the Rosie cuteness).

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    1. I don't mind 3rd person pov at all - there was something about his character that made it off putting at first. More like you were reading a play than watching him I guess. But it settled out.

      It was a fun one.

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  13. Glad to hear that it was a fun read with compelling characters

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