Parents' Guide to

The Great American Whatever

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Wry, heartfelt tale of teen trying to move on after tragedy.

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Author Tim Federle has a gift for blending witty humor with pathos to create charming antiheroes, and he brings it all to this touching story about coming out to live life fully and unapologetically. Tragedy pulses through THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER, but it's kept in check by Quinn's irrepressible spirit. He's an observant and self-deprecating narrator, able to laugh at his own insecurities. As his idealized heroes are revealed as flawed -- and more human -- Quinn's faith in himself grows ever stronger.

Some readers may find the sexual content awkward or too edgy, but for most teens Quinn's anxiety over sex and relationships will strike a very familiar chord. It's a classic coming-of-age tale with a very modern sensibility: Quinn is nervous about coming out, but the big reveal proves to be no big deal. His relationship with Amir isn't a love affair for the ages, but it's no less consequential for a boy figuring out how to be his own man.

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