Written in the voice of 15/16-year old Felton Reinstein, this story is told as Felton looks back upon a very trying summer he’s had.
When he was five (we learn in the very first few pages), Felton opened the garage door to discover his father had committed suicide. His mother raised him unconventionally, asking to be called “Jerri” instead of “Mom.” But this summer is the most uncomfortable of his life. Felton has experienced a growth spurt, and none of his clothes fit anymore. Everyone at school seems to be crazy about his growth spurt, asking him to go out for football and track (he’s “stupid fast,” it turns out). But worst of all, his mother is acting crazy. Literally. Drinking. Allowing bad behavior. Locking herself in the bedroom.
All this when Felton needs her the most.
I enjoyed the voice in the story. Felton speaks honestly, and he mentions the gritty parts of being a teenager, but because he’s relatively innocent (as his love interest tells him), it’s kept toned down for the reader. Profanities are used—but only when needed. Other books I’ve read contain so many profanities that they lose their meaning (granted, some teenagers do have “potty mouths”).
I read the novel in about a day. I hadn’t meant to, but it was difficult to put down, building steadily as it drew toward the end. While I could definitely see that this book targets male readers, I could also see female teenagers being captivated by his story. Aleah, his love interest, helps to keep him grounded.
It’s always interesting to read a young adult book as a “grown-up” because I have such a different perspective in looking at the adult characters. Reading from a teenage perspective, I want to hate Jerri for failing to keep it together for her children–after all, they are her responsibility. But as an adult, I can see how hard it must be struggling with a mental illness (long in the making) while putting your two sons in front of you. I enjoyed the tension caused by trying to understand both sides of the fence.
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