A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Scott Brown’s novel XL is a hilarious, heartfelt coming-of-age tale about a 16-year-old boy named Will Daughtry who learns how to deal with life's growing pains when he finally hits his growth spurt. Readers will learn about evolutionary biology, the scientific method, gorillas and their social hierarchy, how to surf, and the importance of perseverance and communication. Strong language includes several variations of "s--t," "f--k," "d--k," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," and more. There are mentions of masturbation and an alpha male gorilla mounting a female gorilla, and a character loses his virginity. There's also a joke about a character getting "raped to death by an angry gorilla." Characters deal with bullies at school and parties, and with trolls online. A character's dad has a drinking problem, and there's underage drinking at parties.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In XL, 16-year-old Will Daughtry is short and begrudgingly believes he'll always be short. He's barely five feet tall, but with his best friend and stepbrother, Drew, and the girl he's had a crush on since middle school, Monica, by his side, he doesn't feel so small or overlooked. That is until their friendship dynamics take an unexpected turn, and Will realizes he'll always be out of their league. But things drastically change when he starts to grow at an alarming rate. Will's finally starting to feel comfortable in his body and pleased with his height, especially now that other people are noticing him. But the faster he grows taller, the faster his relationships start to deteriorate. Can Will handle the growing pains of life?
Is it any good?
Scott Brown's debut novel is an honest, heartfelt coming-of-age tale about the growing pains of life, making it a must-read for teens. Like many stories about high school, the characters deal with self-esteem issues, bullies, online trolls, and relationship drama, but Brown manages to present them in a unique way. Will's sarcastic, self-deprecating humor provides many hilarious pop culture references and jokes -- The Hobbit, his Fiat, and two-inch shoe inserts to name a few -- that will make teens laugh out loud. And the comparisons he makes to the gorillas at the zoo and their social hierarchy are a powerful way for readers to understand how Will views himself before and after his growth spurt.
Will sometimes whines too much about how unfair his life is, but he ultimately learns that everyone has their own insecurities no matter how tall they are. As XL progresses, teens will understand that growing up means learning how to feel comfortable in your own skin, understanding that you might grow apart from your friends, and accepting that change is part of life.
Talk to your kids about ...
What do you think about the cyberbullying subplot? Should Will have responded? Here are five tips for dealing with haters and trolls online.
- Author: Scott Brown
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 26, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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