Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 22, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I got a copy of this to review through NetGalley. I have been a huge fan of AS King’s book for a while. I loved The Dust of 100 Dogs and Everybody Sees the Ants. I have Ask the Passengers sitting at home waiting to be read. This was a very good book, well written and thought provoking. It wasn’t my favorite AS King book, but it was a very well done one.
This book is about a boy named Gerald Faust, who did not have a normal upbringing. He pretty much was raised on a reality show, where he was told what to do and how to act. However, that’s not the real problem here…pretty much what has torn the family apart is the fact that his sister is a psychopath, his mom is ambivalent, and his dad is always working. As might be expected Gerald has some issues. The main one of these is anger and managing it, he is incredibly violent….like biting people’s ears off, punching holes in things violent. That is until he meets the Girl at the Register at the hockey arena where he works. Then he decides it’s time to make some changes in his life…hopefully for the better.
As with most of King’s books this one is a bit quirky, very heartfelt, and thought-provoking. King’s characters are always in very strange situations and there is usually a little bit of magical realism in the story as well. This book was very similar. Gerald’s sister was very very abusive to him, and no one stopped her. She tries to kill him a number of times when he is younger. Gerald has learned to deal with this, by going off to a happy place in his head where life is wonderful.
Part of Gerald going to his happy place is a way of him dealing with his incredible level of anger at everything. It’s hard not to be angry when you are nicknamed The Crapper, because of rebellious pooping at 5 years old that was televised over the whole world….especially when no one can seem to let it go even though you are in high school now.
To make matters worse rather than helping her son deal with the issues at home his mother decided that Gerald was retarded and needed to be put into special-ed at a very young age. Gerald is not mentally challenged…he is in fact quite smart. But he likes the kids in special ed because they don’t judge and kind of goes along with it all.
When Gerald meets Hannah (the girl who works at the cash register with him) aka The Junkman’s Daughter, he decides things needs to change. He works to get his anger under control and convinces his dad to help him take control of the abusive sister at home…who is still beating up their mother and the rest of the family both physically and emotionally. In addition to all that he’s decided he wants to go to college and is going to move out of special ed and into some more challenging classes. However…it is not an easy or pretty path and Gerald has to fight tooth and nail to stay on it.
We watch as he tries to pull his life together and get some direction and sanity in it. It is inspiring and entertaining. Gerald’s family has got to be one of the most messed up families I have ever read about. We are talking seriously dysfunctional…but strangely most of the family (excepting his sister) isn’t evil…just complacent.
King does an absolutely stunning job of capturing Gerald’s character; he’s not an easy character to deal with and she does a wonderful job making him come alive. All the characters in this book are just so real and engaging and they are in such crazy situations.
Overall this was a very engaging story with incredible characterization. I loved reading it and really enjoyed these zany characters and watching them muddle through all of their issues. It was a creative story and incredibly engaging, the book was very hard to put down. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who enjoy quirky characters working their way through tough life situations.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– 150+ Reading Challenge