Thursday, July 28, 2016
Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked by s.j. goslee
Hilarity 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
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.