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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Great American Whatever, by Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $22.99 ages 15 and up

"This is the kind of hangover people write horror movies about, movies that are never funded because they're too graphic. If you don't know what a hangover feels like, congrats. You are smarter than I am. It's like a sledgehammer eloped with a swing set and they honeymooned in your head. I lift my foot to turn the water on with my toe, and after it cools down a bit, I let it drench my legs."

Quinn Roberts is an aspiring screenwriter. He shares his vision with his older sister, who acts as director for his movies. When Annabeth dies in a car accident, Quinn and his mother are consumed by their grief. His mother uses food to assuage her sadness, while Quinn sleeps through his days and nights, and never leaves the house.

After allowing Quinn time to deal with the very real sadness that is keeping him from a return to a normal teenage life, it's best friend Geoff to the rescue! He insists that Quinn get out of his bed and out of the house - what better distraction than his first college party. New people, new focus - all for the best. Quinn is a reluctant attendee. When he meets an older and very attractive college guy, he feels his world shift. Maybe Geoff is right. His attraction to Amir and the time they spend together allows Quinn to find new interest in the world.

I love Quinn - he is funny, committed to his craft and always observant. His voice is clear and personal, not stereotypical in any way. People from his past have changed. A big reveal threatens his relationship with Geoff. Through it all Quinn learns about himself, his future and the nature of true friendship and first love, with all of its flaws.

His imaginary screenplay scenes are worthy of attention and provide distraction and humor in the face of the more serious issues of death, grief, coming out, secrets and self-absorption. I think you will develop a memorable admiration for Quinn. You will surely want to read his story!

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