This debut novel by East Bay punk rocker Dr. Frank has so much going for it that it may be the literary find of the year. First, it's laugh-out-loud, still-chuckling-10-minutes-later funny, the kind of clever, sardonic, intelligent humor that will have your teens calling up their friends to read passages out loud. The humor, though, is set in high relief by the story's depth, complexity, and sophistication. There's a realism here that goes far beyond most books, either for teens or for adults. All the characters, major and minor, are more than meet the eye, and the layers of their personalities don't always fit together as smoothly as they usually do in fiction. Their lives are as complex as their personalities.
Very few ends are neatly tied up, but unlike most books that try this, it isn't frustrating at all -- in fact it makes perfect sense. Interspersed with all the plot intricacies are Tom's, and the author's, musings, bits of philosophy, rants, and outsider observations, often wickedly funny and always interesting and thought-provoking. Together it all makes for a delightful read.