Title: whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked.
Author: S.J. Goslee
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Length: 272 Pages
Category: Young Adult
At a Glance: whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked has reminded me why I have a longstanding affection for the YA genre.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It’s like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin’ cheerleaders.
Junior year is about to start. Here’s what Mike Tate knows:
His friends are awesome and their crappy garage band is a great excuse to drink cheap beer. Rook Wallace is the devil. The Lemonheads rock. And his girlfriend Lisa is the coolest. Then Lisa breaks up with him, which makes Mike only a little sad, because they’ll stay friends and he never knew what to do with her boobs anyway. But when Mike finds out why Lisa dumped him, it blows his mind. And worse—he gets elected to homecoming court.
With a standout voice, a hilariously honest view on sex and sexuality, and enough f-bombs to make your mom blush, this debut YA novel is a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.
Review: I am a survivor of my own youth, one child’s teenage years and am now in the throes of those years with two more kids, so I can appreciate a Young Adult novel that tackles some pretty serious stuff, yet can still make me laugh hysterically at the unique gift for hyperbole and sarcasm only teenagers have a knack for. Mike Tate and his sidekicks and the side characters in S.J. Goslee’s whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked. is a fresh and funny coming out story that rises to the top in a sea of angsty Teen Fic.
Mike Tate is a straight guy who’s dating his best girlfriend—or, at least he thought he was. On both counts. When Lisa (who is a fantastic girl/friend), informs Mike that they aren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, and never have been—much to Mike’s surprise—she, with all intent and purpose, gives Mike a sweet and subtle little shove toward self-enlightenment. whatever. is the story of a charming stoner with a penchant for cheap beer and playing in a sub-par garage band, who begins questioning everything he thought was true about his sexuality in a realistic and touching and snarky and often comical way. So, yeah, he’s noticed how some guys’ asses fill out their jeans kinda nicely. Does that make him gay, bi…or whatever? What it means is that Mike’s thoughts and feelings and identity get thrown into a tailspin as he tries to come to terms with the fact that he may not be as straight as he’s always thought he was.
With an adorable little sister, an unconventional and supportive mom, an ex-military Nana who pretty much orders Mike to get a boyfriend, and a group of friends (Cam! Cam on fleek, as the kids say–or, at least used to say. I can’t keep up.) and classmates who exist in Mike’s orbit, Goslee sets out to tell the story of a guy whose coming out just…sort of keeps happening to him, all because some folks had him figured out before he did himself. Well, it didn’t hurt that he also doesn’t remember drunk-making-out with J.J. Scalzetti, the Junior Meat King, practically in public (I mean, who could resist playing tonsil hockey with a dude who tells you, “Lord knows why I find you attractive, Michael, when you generally smell like weed and broken hobo dreams”?). The going isn’t always easy for Mike, not by a long shot. Not only does coming out as bisexual to his closest friends not go as well as he’d hoped—at least not with a couple of them—but he also has to deal with the fact that he’s feeling all manner of things—some of those feely things originating in his pants—for a guy he supposedly hates, Rook Wallace.
Obviously, no Young Adult book is going to be angst free. It wouldn’t be authentic if it were, would it? But the author does such a fantastic job of balancing those deeper moments of abject confusion and fear with just the right amount of wit so as not to allow the story to be bogged down in the emo. Mike and Rook navigating their way around their attraction to, and feelings for, each other is a blend of sweet and poignant, with a little sizzle thrown in—because hormones. The start of their relationship isn’t poetry in motion, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll get it all figured out before graduation.
whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked. has reminded me why I’ve always felt a certain affection for the YA genre. This novel doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but what it does is treat its content with due detail and respect, and its characters with a little self-deprecation but with a lot of affection too. These kids are fun and funny, the writing crisp and the pace of the story consistent, and, best of all, it’s an honest portrayal of a guy who’s having the most epiphanous moment of his sixteen-year-old life.
You can buy whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked. here: