“Being human is hard work, isn’t it?”
One could argue that to be true for any person of any age group at any station in life. One also could argue it is the hardest, most uncomfortable, most complicated for teenagers experiencing the transitional growing pains from child to adult.
That’s because in the treacherous currents of teenage culture, it’s easy to get pulled under. With perfect frankness, Lauren Myracle lays bare the life of one boy as he navigates friendship, love, loss and addiction in her new YA novel This Boy (Walker Books US). It’s life at its most ordinary and most unforgettable.
In answer to his mother’s question above, high school freshman Paul Walden acknowledges, “You can say that again.”
Paul is not an “alpha lobster,” the hypermasculine crustacean king who intimidates the other male lobsters, beds all the lady lobsters and “wins” at life. At least not according to the ego-bursting feedback he’s given in his freshman seminar. But Paul finds a funny, faithful friend in Roby Smalls, and signs indicate he might be catching the interest of smart, beautiful Natalia Gutierrez.
Cruising through high school as a sauced-out, rap-loving beta lobster suits Paul fine, and if life ever gets him down? Smoke a little weed, crunch a few pills … it’s all good.
The book has received much advanced praise. “Myracle’s depiction of Paul, his deep friendship with Roby, his relationship with his mom and his first love with Natalia (a strong and multidimensional young woman) will snag readers, both reluctant and voracious, as they root for each of them to make it through the difficult realities of life, high school and love,” writes School Library Journal.
“The narrative highlights the ordinary, everyday moments and conversations that take up Paul’s life. Paul’s intimate first-person narration holds nothing back … A gritty and powerful story,” says Kirkus.
Once again, Myracle brings her signature frank, funny and insightful writing to this novel of a teenage boy’s coming of age. Author Chris Crutcher adds that Myracle truly captures “the chaotic mess that is teenage life.”