For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: the great american whatever by Tim Federle


25663382Quinn Roberts is a sixteen-year-old smart aleck and Hollywood hopeful whose only worry used to be writing convincing dialogue for the movies he made with his sister Annabeth. Of course, that was all before—before Quinn stopped going to school, before his mom started sleeping on the sofa…and before Annabeth was killed in a car accident.

Enter Geoff, Quinn’s best friend who insists it’s time that Quinn came out—at least from hibernation. One haircut later, Geoff drags Quinn to his first college party, where instead of nursing his pain, he meets a guy—a hot one—and falls hard. What follows is an upside-down week in which Quinn begins imagining his future as a screenplay that might actually have a happily-ever-after ending—if, that is, he can finally step back into the starring role of his own life story. ~
Goodreads

Source: Finished copy provided by Simon & Schuster Books at ALA16

Review:

The Great American Whatever is a quirky coming of age story that’s often laugh out loud funny, despite all the overwhelming grief the protagonist, Quinn, is feeling.

After the death of his sister, Annabeth, Quinn has closed himself off from school, friends and most importantly his film making. Once an obsession, Quinn can’t seem to finish his screen play without the A to his Q in Q&A Productions.

His best friend Geoff finally drags him out of the house to a college party where he meets the very sexy Amir, forcing Quinn back into the world and to face things he’s been avoiding for years. His sexuality, his self absorption, his future, Annabeth’s death and most importantly what is real vs the script for life he always has running in his head.

Quinn has a way of viewing everyone as as actors and life as a series of acts as a way of seeing the world and people as he wants them to be rather than how they are. He experiences a seismic shift once reality and truth can’t be avoided anymore.

Quinn’s grief is palpable but somehow not overwhelming because of his self deprecating humor. It seems odd to find humor in that much grief but it was this that made me connect to Quinn the most. I just got him – and his coping mechanisms – because that’s what I did when my mother died when I was in HS. You just want to form a protective shield around yourself and not be *that kid that lost someone* and avoid the awkward questions and well meaning conversations that follow. And it’s also difficult to move on and be happy when the person you loved can’t.

The book isn’t perfect. The writing could be a little precious in that way that YA book teens seemingly always have a witty comeback or know loads and loads of trivia but I think it works for Quinn. As a movie buff, I believed that he would be that quirky, awkward, smart and funny.

The book is also rooted in reality. That not everything works out perfect. Sometimes a first love is just that – the first – one of many to come and that’s ok. That maybe your sister was never as high on the pedestal that you tried to put her on. That your mom is flawed but she’s your mom and she’s trying.

There’s a bit of drama with Qunn’s best friend, Geoff, that acts as a catalyst for some things but, to me, opened a whole can of worms that the book didn’t quite have the time to explore fully but it’s a minor complaint.

The Great American Whatever is an easy, breezy type of read that nonetheless contains profound moments. It reminded me of a somewhat more grown-up version of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda with a bit of that John Green type dialogue.

19 comments:

  1. This might not be the book for me but I loved your review. You often seem to weave bits of your life into them, which makes for a broader perspective on the books themselves. Also, if I'm good at minis (you said that LOL), you have a flair for mediums :D.

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    1. Ha! I love that! We're hereby known as Master of the Mini and Master on Medium lol

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  2. I love the title and cover of this book - which is why I picked it up to begin with. I haven't read my copy but I'm so looking forward to meeting these characters!

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    1. It's a sweet, quick read! I hope you enjoy it too.

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  3. I grabbed this one for my Kindle recently as it was on sale. I'm glad to hear that you liked it overall. Sometimes quirky dialogue doesn't work, but it does seem like that WOULD be Quinn's character.

    -Lauren

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  4. This sounds emotional but in such a good way (I don't gravitate toward those but end up enjoying the ones I read). I'm sorry you lost your mom at such a young age. I can't even imagine what that would be like, but obviously this author gets it and that makes me want to read it even more.

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    1. Of course, everyone's experience is different, but I really related to this particular character.

      It's not really a book about grief so it's a good book for if you want something with a little more depth but still lighter.

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  5. I'm always glad to see books with a strong reality factor in them. Gives me a break from UF/PNR.

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  6. I love the sound of this one, quirky but with lots of emotion and attitude as well. It sounds like it has so much realism breathed into not only the storyline, but the characters as well. As a reader, you couldn't ask for more to be able to relate to what you're reading. I'm so sorry you lost your mum at such a young age, that must have been a devastating time in your life and I'm so sorry you had to go through that <3

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    1. Thanks. I wish I had all these books when I was younger. They really help. Even though my story isn't exactly the same it's helpful to see your experiences and how others work through them.

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  7. oh wow...this seems pretty fantastic. I love a story with great emotion. I am saddened to hear about your mom though, I can't imagine how hard that must have been!!

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    1. I think the author balanced the grief with the humor really well. That's hard to do.

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  8. Good grief (get it, get it?) I was expecting a tone akin to Simon vs, but this will do.

    I can only imagine how you were able to connect with the MC, I'm happy the author got the emotions down and make everything realistic.

    I definitely want to read this one!

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    1. Got it! Ba-da-bum lol

      It is like it - but not. Yeah that made no sense lol I think it's not as adorable/cute as Simon but still explores all those themes with humor.

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  9. Oooh ... I think I would like this one. I love the idea that he thinks of his life as a screenplay.
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

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