Parents' Guide to

King of the Screwups

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Enchanting stereotype-bending novel; teens only.

King of the Screwups Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say Not yet rated
Kids say (4 ):

This is a hilarious, and ultimately devastating, portrait of a kid who has been emotionally and verbally abused (along with his mother). We've all known kids like Liam -- bright, creative, talented, lovable -- who have fallen under the sway of someone who has convinced them that they're worthless, and they can't seem to see themselves through anyone else's eyes. Readers will be on Liam's side from the start. Even though the story is told in Liam's voice, readers will cotton on pretty quickly to the reality that Liam can't see and, so compelling is the author's way of telling the story, they will want to set him straight. But doing so is not so easy.

With italicized flashbacks to pivotal moments in Liam's life, readers get to see him both inside and out, past and present. Even though he is popular in both his old and new schools, the author induces a powerful feeling of empathy for him, something unusual in young adult books, in which popularity almost always equates with mean and shallow. Equally unusual is straight Liam's fashion sense, so perfectly presented that it may have even boys taking a closer look at their wardrobes, and his gay uncle and friends, none of whom fit into a stereotype -- or anti-stereotype. Liam's father is a bit one-dimensional, but since it is Liam telling the story, that makes some sense. All of the other characters are fully-realized, realistic, and delightful. And though it is often laugh-out-loud funny, this is a book that packs an emotional wallop, and one that is fairly earned.

From the Book:
"My dad," I say defiantly. "Because even though I don't look like him and I'm not smart like him, he's still my dad."

For a single second my father's chest swells. His eyes go from hard to soft. But then, before I have time to savor the moment, I screw up. And it's not just any screwup. It's the mother of all screwups.

"I know," I tell the interviewer on national TV, "because they got the paternally test and everything. I heard Mom say it to my nana. She said if we hadn't got the paternally test, she never would have believed it."

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate