Written by Todd Hasak - Lowy
Contemporary, LGBT, Coming of Age
Published April 2015
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia
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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 6:00am 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, is1. Painful2. Unavoidable3. Ridiculously complicated4. Possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
Fifteen year old Darren has a lot to content with. He's a Jewish virgin, vegetarian, overweight and longs for acceptance. He lives with his single workaholic mother, staying with his father for days at a time while she's away with work. His older brother isn't fairing any better, away at college spending his days chasing girls and smoking pot, while his academic career falls by the wayside. But nothing could prepare Darren for the bombshell his father is about to drop, leaving Darren's world shattered in the process.
The only person Darren can turn to is Nate, and travels alone to spend time with his older brother on campus. What Darren didn't expect was to have the brooding Zoey tagging along for the ride. Zoey barely speaks, Darren trying to engage the moody and unfriendly teen over a cafeteria rubbish bin each day at school. The more time the two spend together on the impromptu road trip, the more Darren finds himself falling for her... Until Zoey disappears as quickly as she arrived.
His world is falling apart. His mother wants to move him across the country, his father is dating again and Nate had grandeurs of being little more than a house plant. The one person who understands him has vanished. Something has to give.
Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You is a storyline made entirely of lists, in which Darren seems to find solace as a coping mechanism. The ass has just fallen out of his world, he's depressed, latches onto girls hoping for a girlfriend and dreams of his own band, I suspect in the hope to find said girlfriend. His mother would rather throw herself into her work than spend time with her family, and his divorced father has just dropped a doozy of a secret in Darren's lap. Darren is a likable character, we're told he's intelligent but sadly never shown any proof. But he's creative and an incredible bassist, who misses playing with his brother's band. Darren reminded me of Charlie in The Perks of Being A Wallflower, naive and awkward, but has a strange appeal that is never quite fully explored. I loved Zoey, her character had the makings of a John Green novel. Quirky and flighty, but sadly just as she started to become interesting, she disappeared.
I loved Darren's father, so incredibly loving and tolerable of his son while he worked through his issues. He was a big part of Darren's life, whether Darren wanted him there or not and with his mother always on the road, he desperately needed a parental figure in his life.
But beyond the quirky format, it brings to light deep and thought provoking issues such as substance abuse, sexuality and loneliness. I felt incredibly sorry for Darren but once his father's secret was revealed, he became another angry and angst riddled teen that seemed withdraw from the only person who was genuinely there for him.
As much as I appreciated it's uniqueness, I didn't see the overall picture. I was waiting for the AH HA! moment that never arrived. It was entertaining, but the format left me feeling disconnected and unable to immerse myself within the storyline. I found the lists difficult to read with it's stop start format.
A quirky and unique coming of age, that in the right hands will indulge readers, immerse them and leave you on a high. I enjoyed it for the most part, but with a disconnection to the characters and storyline. Don't let it's length fool you, it's remarkably easy to breeze through.