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 two protagonists swear, get drunk, and are mean to one another. Naomi is a virgin, but still kisses and fools around. Her gay best friend Ely is more promiscuous (at one point, he asks his boyfriend to lick whipped cream off him, and later flashes a bouncer to get into a drag queen performance at a club). There is some strong language and drug use.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Is it any good?
This is just an average book, and while there are great moments, readers may get bored before they get there. Readers may be initially drawn to Naomi and Ely because they are so cool: They are beautiful, dress funky, and their conversations are full of fun turns, swear words, and energy -- and they are living in the same cool neighborhood in cool New York City, going to cool New York University. Naomi even cleverly peppers her narration with cute little icons. The premise, too, is hip and engaging. But as the fight between the two protagonists intensifies, readers will begin to wonder if they couldn't redirect their angst into something a bit less shallow.
Part of the problem may be that there are so many different narrators in this book, from a sensitive doorman to the boy who first causes the fight between the two protagonists. Maybe if the authors had just stuck to Naomi and Ely, we would have learned to like them better. Instead, they just seem mean: They use people, are rude to them, and can even be cruel to one another. They ultimately do learn some valuable lessons, though: Naomi learns that she needs to stop living in a fantasy world, and Ely realizes that real relationships -- romantic and not -- require work. Readers will be impressed that the authors offer up some complex lessons instead of a pat reconciliation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the edgy material in this book. Beyond the swearing, there is some racy sexual material here as well, like when Ely asks his boyfriend to lick whipped cream off of him. What makes a book Young Adult? Is there a limit to what is acceptable in books for teens?
Talk about the pros and cons of co-authoring a book (Levithan and Cohn also wrote other books, including Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist together). Do you think writing this way would be helpful or frustrating? Do you think men can create better male characters and women better female characters?
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