by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse; First Edition edition (March 24, 2015)
Goodreads | Amazon
A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!
Darren hasn't had an easy year.
There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.
Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.
Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
The appeal I initially felt for the book was the fact that it is written in lists. At an incredible 656 pages I felt that It would be a fast read if all done in list form. Not all the lists are written in such few words, but paragraphs at a time and eventually had the feel of reading a diary for me. It was not a fast read and at times I felt Darren was rambling and jumped around a lot.
Darren is on his way to turning 16 and does not only have one huge event happen in his life, but more around 5 life changing events that take place. The story give us insights into a pretty normal boys mind. From girls, music, family and school. His daily struggles to just make it through the day in a very emotionally hard time in his life. Even though I did feel that at times he jumps around a lot from the past to present day, it was pretty easy to follow and understand the connections he was making.
When is father breaks some news to him, Darren's life gets thrown off track and he cannot concentrate. He focuses on his need to see his brother who recently left for college. Deciding it is what he needs more than anything he decides to get on a bus and go see him. With unexpected events and new life experiences the trip leaves Darren a changed man. Only to return home to new hardships and (more) life changing news. It is very much a coming of age story, full of drama, heartache and love.
As there are no chapters or markings to help a reader remember where they left off, it's highly recommended you use a book mark at all times. I have seen this book recommended to fans of John Green and I do agree with that statement. The book also has different section breaks and that is how I approached the story, by reading a section at a time which made it easier for me to read. Darren is a great main character and somebody I could see myself being friends with.