Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Title Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before
Author David Yoo
Genre Young Adult Commercial Fiction
Rating A+

Summary Albert Kim, high school Junior suffering from a case of self-imposed social exile/Nihilism because he doesn't care about being a loser, works a summer job with school queen bee, Mia, and at the end of the summer they are "something." Then Mia's ex-boyfriend, and bona fide cool guy/jock, is diagnosed with cancer and Albert finds himself fighting a can't-win battle for Mia's heart with a "sympathetic" opponent.

First Line "The first time I met Mia we ended up in a hotel room by ourselves."

Summary I've said before that I'm kind of a big fan of David Yoo's work and that, I believe, it's just as hard to write incredibly funny stuff as it is to write "poignant" or "dramatic" stories. And, travelling on that same road, Yoo one-up's himself with his sophomore novel, Stop Me If...

This book is equal parts funny (actually hilarious), heart-breaking, and thoughtful. The characters were actually better drawn, more mature, than they were in Girls for Breakfast. For example, the protagonist in Stop Me If... makes some social mis-steps, but he knows when he's made those social mis-steps and makes strides to correct them. Also, Albert is more relatable because he's not entirely desperate (the idea that he just "gave up" on caring about high school is inspired and the observations he makes about his fellow students are beautiful), but he does still possess the capacity to make some very good friends--Mia for sure, but his neighbor and the neighbor's pals.

As is Yoo's M.O. (if you can have an M.O. with only two books), the narrator is Asian, it's not nearly as significant as it was in Girls for Breakfast, but still interesting. He writes a line that you can probably only get away with as an Asian writer, but the teenage protagonist is thinking about something his parents do to him and thinks, "Unfuckingbereavable." Is it wrong to laugh at that?

I didn't actually like the ending of this book, the protagonist does something that I wished he wouldn't do (although I know in reality that no teenage guy is going to pass up the opportunity that Albert has at the end of the book), but even that wasn't enough to sway my good opinion. The story and characters, overall, are so spot-on, that this book was an A+ in my literary grade book.

You'll notice that this review is higher (slightly) than Girls for Breakfast and that's because Yoo didn't lose any of his wit or wisdom, and (as referenced above) brought a stronger protagonist and a more compelling story to the table this time. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to laugh while they think about high school politics and first love.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Ooh, this sounds like my kinda humor!