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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian

Title: Perfectly Good White Boy
Author: Carrie Mesrobian
ISBN: 9781467734806
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Released: October 28, 2014
Page #: 291
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Sean Norwhalt can read between the lines.
He knows she just dumped him. He was a perfectly good summer boyfriend, but now she's off to college, and he's still got another year to go. Her pep talk about futures and 'possibilities' isn't exactly comforting. Sean's pretty sure he's seen his future and his 'possibilities,' and they all look disposable.

Like the crappy rental his family moved into when his dad left.
Like all the unwanted filthy old clothes he stuffs into the rag baler at his thrift-store job.
Like everything good he's ever known.

The only hopeful possibilities in Sean's life are the Marine Corps, where no one expected he'd go, and Neecie Albertson, whom he never expected to care about."
First Lines: (quoted from the galley - see finished copy for edits.)

"I stood in the back of the barn, in front of a pile of boxes marked 'Tools,' watching the party go on."
Page 1

This is exactly the type of book I what I was hoping "New Adult" would be. Just... real. Exactly what I think teen guys are like, for real. There's something to be said for that. Gritty. Raw. Intense.

Sean spends one summer with a girl who is leaving for school in the fall. But she really changes everything about him... how he sees the world, what his future looks like, everything. He starts to see people differently - even his closest friends and family. When he makes the decision to go into the Marines, there is only one person he trusts with his secret.

Honestly, I've decided that this author has the whole "new adult" thing in the bag. I mean, without it actually being classified that way. Her books are honest and real in a way that I rarely see. She doesn't pull any punches. Because of her first book Sex and Violence, I have decided I need to read anything she does. I'm not sure that this second book hit me as much as her first, but it was still fascinating.

I think Marine Corps angle of this book is one that many teen boys will resonate with. I mean, not that they're all going to do it or anything, but that the military is an option to them. And what little boy hasn't wanted to be a soldier at some point in their lives?! Or girl. I mean, let's be real. So the discussion about the medical tests and the swearing in... plus leaving for boot camp... I think it's all stuff that teens will want to know about. I like the way this author dealt with all of that - positively and non-last-resort-ish.

As I mentioned, this book is probably as close to real teen guy thinking as it gets, you can imagine there are some crude bits. That's the wrong word... Accurate bits. There's sex, there's drugs, there's alcohol, there's naughty thoughts... and so much more. I'd probably only hand this book to 17 year olds and up. So if you're a librarian thinking about this title, be sure to keep all that in mind. It's intense!

I think the way the friendship between Sean and Neecie develops is perfect. They become fast friends and tell each other everything. It's kind of nice to see how they play off of one another without it being some sort of weird sexual thing. I mean, not that those thoughts aren't mentioned, but there is an innocence that seems to connect the two of them.

There is a whole lot of family drama and craziness that I think many people will latch onto. A couple of screwed up families and some that have put themselves back together successfully. There's all sorts of types and I think that helps make this book feel so real. One thing that did throw me off was some of the timing in the beginning of the book. It might be changed by the time the final version is out for purchase, but there were some jumps that I didn't quite follow. Lots of asking myself, "wait, was that in the same day?"

All in all, I think this book was really good. I'd definitely recommend Mesrobian's first book over this, but it's still a great story. She does a wonderful job capturing real life and bringing it out through her words. As always, I'm impressed. And as I said before, I'll probably be reading anything she comes out with in the future. Can't wait to see what that might be!
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There aren't many reviews out there right now, but it looks like there are some decent ones on Goodreads. Check those out.

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