A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main character gets depressed and seeks guidance from a questionable guru who may be running a cult. Violence includes a teen getting beaten up, land mines planted, and the threat of a possibly murderous stalker. There's talk of a teen hooking up with an adult and a few pictures to prove it.
What's the story?
Josh, also known as Larry, is used to having goals and purpose. The first two books in the series had him running for president and waging a war against rampant consumerism. Now in LARRY AND THE MEANING OF LIFE, Josh finds himself without motivation, sitting on the couch watching reruns, unable to get excited about anything. When his best friend sends him to take a walk at his favorite retreat, he runs into an unlikely guru. Larry is skeptical of Gus and his philosophy, but he doesn't have much else going for him so he decides to give Gus a try. Old friends and enemies pop up at the least expected moments in Josh's journey and the ending is unexpected and shocking.
Is it any good?
Larry and the Meaning of Life can be confusing for those who haven't read the previous books, but there are helpful footnotes Josh provides throughout the novel. Author Janet Tashjian keeps the story moving at a healthy pace and throws in enough plot twists that readers may come out feeling like pretzels. In Josh, Tashjian has a fascinating character with depth, who's smart, engaging, and endearing to her audience.
Readers will find themselves both caught up in the story as it rushes, twists, and turns toward its finish and protective of Josh as he displays distinctive vunerablility. This is a great book for teens who tend to look at the world with more awareness than their peers and it's also for those who are questioning their future and their place in the world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Josh's loss of direction in his life. Have you ever felt like you didn't know what to do next, or what you wanted to do with your life? Josh goes through some pretty extreme experiences to get himself back on track. How do you refocus on your goals? Families can also talk about how to set goals and how to deal with depression. Do you have someone you can talk to if you feel down? Do you know the difference between depression and just having the blues?