A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The main character frequently gets in trouble in school and at home, and once with the police. His father is verbally and emotionally abusive to him and his mother.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens have sex, mentioned but not described, though mutual undressing is described in one scene. A teen lives with his cross-dressing, homosexual uncle, whose boyfriend is the teen's teacher. Some of the homosexual characters behave in stereotypical fashion, which is commented on; others do not. A girl is described as having "a killer rack."
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"S--t," "f--k" (used both sexually and as an expletive). "Bitch," "hell," "goddamn" used on multiple occasions. Homosexuals are referred to as "fags" and "faggots."
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Products & Purchases
The main character is interested in fashion, so many clothing and shoe brands are mentioned approvingly. Also, food, fast food, store brands are mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens and adults drink, get drunk, and drive drunk. Teens also smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this novel for teens has many sexual references, and a scene in which a boy and girl undress each other, but are interrupted before they can have sex. There is also a fair amount of swearing and many approving references to clothing and shoe brands from the fashion-oriented teenaged main character.
Is It Any Good?
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."
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Our Editors Recommend
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