Tom Grendel and his father, an Army veteran who is struggling with PTSD, are trying to lead a quiet life to allow his father to heal not only from his battle scars, but the loss of his wife and Tom’s mother. But when a family moves in next door that threatens to upset the quiet neighborhood they all love, adventures ensue as Tom, his best friend Ed, and Tom’s sister vow to end the loud parties that have driven Tom’s dad from their home. And then there’s Willow…
This book is everything that is right about YA. I absolutely loved this reworking of Beowulf. The adventures and plots were fun and crazy, together with the perfect amount of angst, the all important first love, and my new favorite best friend in a YA novel, Ed. So many laugh out loud moments, but also moments that tugged at your heart and made the characters so easy to relate to and empathize with. I had more fun with this book than I have in a long time and truly enjoyed every second of it.
Thompson Lake, average guy and Hawaii resident, has just come off The Worst Valentine’s Day Ever ™. After breaking up with his first love, he drowns his sorrows in the Elvis Presley music she got him addicted to. He heads out to see an Elvis impersonator, hoping his ex will be there too. But when he hears the impersonator, also known as Johnny Lee Young, sing “Hurt”, he is profoundly changed. Johnny asks to Thompson to be his summer “intern” and the two grow to be close friends, and find they have more in common than they thought. Johnny still mourns the loss of the only woman he ever loved, and Thompson seeks to get them back together, even though she’s about to get married in Chicago. Thompson hatches a plan to get Johnny there to win his true love back.
This was a sweet YA novel and it was nice to see the heartache from a male perspective. The similarities between both Thompson and Johnny’s heartache, even with the age difference, was interesting. They supported each other and kept the other one with the plan. I especially loved the confidence and self discovery Thompson went through himself as he tried to help Johnny get his girl back. Thoroughly enjoyed this quirky cast of characters and the setting.
New York, NY is a hell of a town, or so the saying goes. Jones Gibson is 15, almost 16 years old, and trying to figure out his world. High school, his driver’s license, girls. His parents have separated and he goes to spend the last few weeks of summer break with his dad. When his dad’s PSAT prep plan for him doesn’t fit the bill, he takes an opportunity to run away to NYC and to his dad’s brother, Uncle Danny, a former pop star and skateboard god. Jones doesn’t know it, but love is right around the corner at the local diner in the form of the quirky Emily Comiskey.
The family discourse in the book hit home for me in so many ways. The struggles, the love, the fights and the reconciliations all contributed to a YA novel that had many facets other than the typical boy meets girl love story. I enjoyed the parts of the book that came from Jones’ dad’s perspective. It helped me understand the challenges in the family. Growing up can be so hard but it can also have so much joy and happiness, and I think this novel sums up both sides of adolescence in a very satisfying and charming way.