Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Great American Whatever

The Great American WhateverAuthor: Tim Federle
Info: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, copyright 2016, 288 pages

Quinn 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 Description

Back to being pessimistic.

Super quick blurb - Quinn has a sister.  Sister dies.  Quinn is grieving.  Quinn is gay.  Quinn is looking for his identity.  Quinn moves on.  Was that glib?  That sounded glib.  Okay, it was a little glib.

What is it with siblings dying?  Is that the only obstacle authors think that teens face?  The loss of a brother or sister?  Or perhaps I've just read way too many of this particular kind of book lately.  I don't know, but this one left me underwhelmed.

The thing is, I didn't particularly like Quinn.  He had potential.  Lots of potential.  But things that it felt like Federle wanted us to focus on - Quinn as an aspiring screenwriter, Quinn as a caring sibling, Quinn as a friend - got glossed over or forgotten.  If they were meant to define who Quinn was both before the loss of his sister and after, shouldn't they have played more of a prominent role?

Even Quinn's sexual identity and coming out was given the time or understanding that it could have or should have.  He just came off as selfish and ungrateful, and the glimpse of Quinn you get at the end doesn't really work with that image.  Despite Annabeth being dead, getting to know her would have allowed the reader to get to know Quinn better, to sympathize and empathize with what he was going through.  He wasn't a bad guy.  But a character driven book should allow you to get to know the characters, and I don't feel like that really happened...and what I did learn about him didn't leave me wanting more.

So this wasn't my favorite of the year so far.  It also wasn't the worst.  It was.  Maybe I need to sit with it a little longer.  Toss it around in my head for awhile.  Hmmm.  I don't know.  What did you think?


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