These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
PW Reviews 2005 September #3
As he did in Stoner & Spaz , Koertge once again creates intelligent, full-blooded teens grappling with their passage into adulthood. The book opens in smalltown Wendleville during senior year for Elliot, Teresa and Larry, who have been friends since childhood and who plan to move to California after graduation. Various flashbacks through their alternating first-person narratives help readers understand the history between the three. Elliot is a stunning jock, but his friendship with the other two bring out his more vulnerable side (they also help him with his studies). Teresa, obsessed with running, grapples with an eating disorder and her abandonment by her mother at age 13. Her quick wit (while running she describes the sites, one of which is the “we-love-Jesus-more-than-you-do Baptist church”) makes for some clever repartée with Larry, who, at age 13, realized he was gay (he loves watching movies on TV: “Lo and behold, there’s an old black-and-white Tarzan movie with the exquisite Johnny Weissmuller wrestling a fortunate crocodile”). A scene with a toxic homophobe on the basketball court with Elliot leaves no doubt of the trajectory here, but Larry’s brush with near-death brings about some soul-searching for all three characters. The plot may hold no surprises, but the three stars and even the minor characters here will hold readers’ interest. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
[Page 67]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Booklist Reviews 2005 September #1
Gr. 8-11. Koertge returns with memorable, likable characters, spot-on dialogue that is both humorous and insightful, and a subtle exploration of prejudices and issues that will resonate with teens. Elliot, Teresa, and Larry have been friends “forever.” As they approach graduation, they plan to run away to California to live, escaping their small-town, narrow-minded friends, and overbearing, annoying parents. Yet each teen begins to doubt the wisdom of the plan. Mary Ann helps Elliot realize that he has been overshadowed by his two friends; Teresa realizes that she wants a romantic relationship with one of the boys (she likes them both), but they see her as only a friend; and Larry realizes that his homosexuality will eventually lead him away from the trio. Koertge deftly balances the heavy issues with respectful humor. After a crisis and its immediate resolution, an undercurrent of foreboding remains, reminding readers that, even as they mature and become individuals, crises will continue to threaten and relationships will continue to strengthen and evolve. A perceptive book about teenage friendship and the struggle for individual identity that will resonate with many readers. Buy several copies. ((Reviewed September 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
Elliot, Teresa, and Larry have made a pact to leave their small Illinois hometown after graduation and move to Los Angeles. As the first-person narratives alternate among their three perspectives, cracks in the relationship become visible, and as each one begins to individuate, they realize that their escape plan is more restrictive than liberating. Koertge’s use of language ?s invigorating. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #5
The best-laid plans of mice and men — and high school seniors — often go awry. Close friends Elliot, Teresa, and Larry have made a pact to leave their small hometown of Wendleville, Illinois, right after graduation and move to Los Angeles, where, as Larry puts it, they will only allow themselves “friends who are willing to play not just second fiddle but fourth violin.” Koertge believably lays out how these three very different kids have, over the years, configured into a tight trio. Each has a niche: Elliot is handsome and not academically minded, to say the least, but sweet-natured and accepting; openly gay Larry is the movie buff with the cinematic vision of their future together; Teresa, whose mother abandoned her years earlier, finds a substitute family with the boys. As the first-person narratives alternate among their three perspectives, cracks in the relationship become visible, and as each one begins to individuate, they realize that their escape plan is more restrictive than liberating. Koertge’s use of language is, as always, invigorating (“he unwraps an Almond Joy…and feeds it into his mouth like somebody stoking a boiler”); a gay-bashing incident involving Larry and a local thug is unclichŽd and sets up the inevitable resolution. As Koertge deftly shows, the most daring move may be not to go halfway across the country but to finally think for — and be — oneself. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2005 December
Inseparable friends Larry, Teresa, and Elliot-boy girl boy-plan to escape to Los Angeles after graduation to live out their fantasy and avoid their otherwise inevitable futures. An interesting mix of friends live in straight-laced, white-bread, middle-class Wendelville-queer Larry with his erudite vocabulary and fortune-teller mother; athletic, gorgeous, God-fearing, field-playing Elliot whose father looks just as good; and bitter Teresa, who helps Elliot with his schoolwork and whose obsession with her runaway mother has her grabbing any available surrogate, while her father builds his model town in the basement. Recreational marijuana use and stereotyping are rampant in this small town, and the cow pasture in which they once played is being converted to a subdivision. Their three rotating points of view might cause reader confusion until the narrative takes off with Elliot’s eighteenth birthday party and its assorted encounters. The novel’s multitudinous characters-parents, relatives, friends, neighbors, pick-ups, and peers-cease to confuse and become interesting This light, fast read has its sobering moments, including a death-defying, gay-bashing incident, and it also offers lust, light sex, romance, teen angst, and fantasies for escape. The book provides an interesting commentary on the divides of class, intellect, religion, sexuality, morality, and compassion and is bound to be popular with teen readers looking toward their senior year and the freedom that lies just beyond graduation.-Cynthia Winfield 3Q 4P J S Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.