Meg Howrey’s debut is a coming-of-age novel about a boy–for a change! My favorite quote about this novel comes from Meg herself, on the Largehearted Boy blog, “Somewhere along the way, what started as a kind of spin on classic heroes journeys and test-and-quest myths also became a love story between this father and son.”
There are several appeal factors for teen readers here, including the lure of Hollywood, Luke’s engaging character, his sense of humor, and his attempts at writing the perfect college essay.
Adult/High School–For all of his 17 years, Luke has lived in a family of women. His mother, Sara, a revered healer and yoga master, has raised him to be non-judgmental and gentle. When he wanted to play football, she gave him a bongo drum instead. His two older sisters, sassy and irreverent, have doted on him since babyhood. His grandmother believes that he is the only one in the family who shares a reverence for the Bible. Luke himself, however, is a far more interesting and complex thinker than any of his loved ones perceive. His father has long been absent, believed by Luke to have vanished after one magical night with Sara. Everything changes when his father, now a famous television star with a new name, contacts Sara with a proposal that Luke should come to Los Angeles for the summer. The male bonding between long-lost man and his son fulfills mutual longings that neither had previously acknowledged. Throughout the summer, Luke writes essays intended for his college application. These essays comprise the first part of each chapter, and are filled with Luke’s wonderfully witty observations on family dynamics and the workings of the human brain. After the essays, which generally wander far afield of Luke’s opening ideas, the narration changes to third person. This is only confusing for the first couple of occurrences; readers quickly realize that more of the story can be told from this vantage point. Teens will appreciate Luke’s philosophical insights as well as his youthful naivety.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL