I have to confess–I started A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius quite a while ago.
Then the summer happened.
The kiddos and I went to Idaho to visit family the last week of June–and then just bounced around more family events in Utah for most of July. I opted to take short books on our trip, since there’s a limit to the amount of focus and time you find while you’re on vacation with your two-year-old, and then Real Friends finally came in at the library with no chance of being renewable, and THEN I started A School for Brides on the treadmill. (Not to mention the fact that I had to tuck a couple of books I actually owned in there as well.) I finally recommitted myself to it, however, and oh! how I laughed! Arthur Bean is funny, funny, funny; he’s also grieving over his mother, intent on winning a short story contest so that he can be a published author, and pining after the lovely Kennedy Laurel, who possibly ended ONE emailed sentence with a period in the course of 268 pages. (She favors the exclamation point for any and [almost!] every occasion.) These three driving forces lead him to a plethora of questionable, unfortunate, and/or downright terrible choices, but they also make for some fabulous comedic writing. As an English teacher, I frequently cringed at those choices, but it was impossible not to laugh anyway.
Stacey Matson, however, accomplishes more than just comedy; she manages to make a frequently arrogant and selfish main character sympathetic. (Although to be fair, Arthur’s selfish in the way that most junior high students are selfish. I imagine a reading audience of his peers are likely to empathize with him.) She also manages to flesh out minor characters with very few words. If you’re looking for a comic novel with noticeable depth for your junior high student, don’t miss this one. It’s an especially nice choice for boys, since it should have appeal in beautifully non-bodily oriented ways, but girls will likely get a kick out of it as well. I’m currently waiting for my library to respond to my “suggest a purchase” request for Matson’s other Arthur Bean novels…