by Fiona Wood
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Poppy (August 11, 2015)
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1. Kiss Estelle.
2. Get a job.
3. Cheer my mother up.
4. Try not to be a complete nerd/loser.
5. Talk to my father when he calls.
6. Figure out how to be good.
Nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a whole heap of problems, including a reversal of family fortune, moving, new-school hell, a mother with a failing wedding cake business, a just-out gay dad, and a massive crush on Estelle, the girl next door. His life is a mess, but for now he's narrowed it down to just six impossible things....
In this charming story of one guy's efforts to get it together when his life is falling apart, award-winning author Fiona Wood introduces an irresistible voice and a delightfully awkward character who is impossible to forget.
Dan Cereill (pronounced “Cereal”) has his fair share of life changing problems at the age of fourteen. His dad announces that he is gay; his parents’ divorce and his mom moves to a small town to stay in a house left to her in a will; family has a financial meltdown. All of that seems to not matter as much when he meets Estelle. I use “meet” loosely because Dan stalks Estelle. That is not creepy, right? A fourteen-year old boy stalking a girl until he knows her routine, social appointments, and even reads her journals has to be normal somewhere.
I usually really, really enjoy YA Contemporary books but this one gave me pause. It honestly made me question if I was getting to old to enjoy YA and/or Contemporaries because this story did not make a lot of sense to me. It might have been the fact the entire story is told from the POV of a fourteen-year-old male. The author just did not do a good job of stepping into the mind of this character. The story came across more like a terrible high school drama.
This was not a “coming of age” story. The entire time I thought it was “Tips for Teenage Boys to Stalk Girls” story. Dan instantly obsesses over Estella to the point that I was freaked out for her and his age could not be blamed for his decisions and actions. I did not know if his level of obsession would escalate. I could not believe the author thought this type of behavior was good to put into a book. I did not connect to any character in the book besides Howard, the dog. Dan was just too stalker for me and Estella was flat and boring.
This book had such potential but all of it fell flat. The family issues could have been expanded more and the high school drama brought down a lot. The pace was slow and I could not wait for the book to be over. The romance was uncomfortable and rushed, not believable at all. The author focused more on Dan’s obsessive behaviors than what could have been real issues. This novel came across as an exaggerated story that is too over-the-top to believe.