"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Quinn Roberts is a 16-year-old high school student who loves to write movie scripts in which his sister, Annabeth, and his best friend, Geoff, collaborate, or, I should say, collaborated. Five months earlier Annabeth died in a car crash outside of school and Quinn has been so deeply immersed in grief since that time he has become a total recluse. But Geoff is finally able to drag Quinn to a college party where he meets a guy, a hot guy, and suddenly the mood starts to shift.

Quinn decides to come out to his friend and his mother, even though both knew he was gay already. He starts to care about his hygiene and his mother's health. It is as if he is emerging from a long dreary winter. Yet Quinn can't shake the feeling that his sister's death is somehow his own fault. It haunts him to think that his last text to her may have killed her.

I like The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle and will certainly encourage my students to select it for their reading. Quinn is a smart-mouthed, snarky kid and I am sure many teens at my school will appreciate his attitude and understand his dilemma concerning his sister.

Unfortunately for this book, I listened to it just days before I listened to We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson, which I think is a superior book. And, in a lot of ways, the books are similar. Both books deal with a depressed, homosexual teen boy. Both boys are having trouble coping with the death of a beloved friend/relative. Each boy lives in the household headed by their mother because the fathers have abandoned them. And finally each boy starts to emerge from their funk because of the attention of another gay teen and as their lives start to surface, each finds solace from their pen and writing. Hmm. I guess you can tell why I am a bit confused as I try to think of these books as separate entities. Not helping my cause is the their juxtaposition in terms of reading them one after the other.

That said, I do want to encourage you and others not to brush this book aside. There are a lot of positive, important messages in this book especially about the transformative power of friendship.
Do I think this book is Printz-worthy? No, honestly I don't. But, as I've said before, that doesn't mean it isn't an awesome book worthy of being read and shared.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Audiobook from the public library

2017 Printz Award Contenders

23 / 35 books. 66% done!


  1. You are making fantastic progress! It is difficult to compare two very similar books. I've had that issue with some of my mystery series.

    1. Thanks. I have mapped out all the YA books I want to read before Fall and it I will be close but I think I will make it. In addition, I am sure that other books will be added to the list between now and the end of the year. I am bound and determined to read all the 3+ YA starred reviewed books this year before we select our Mock Printz list the end of September.

  2. Oh what a shame that you read two such similar books so close together!

    1. I agree. It was very bad timing on my part plus the weird thing is that I didn't know about their similarities until I started reading them. Sigh.

  3. Yes, I completely agree. This was a quick read that had a lot of positive messages, but I still felt that it lacked depth. I wanted more, especially about his sister.

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this read! But it is too bad that you happened to read it right after We Are The Ants :/. Excellent review, Anne!


I look forward to your comments and interactions! Join in the conversation.