By Andrew Auseon
2010, HarperTeen, 304 pages
A novel about freaks, geeks, crushes, and friends—and how sometimes you can be all of them at once.
Charlie is the freak. Gloria is the freak magnet. They're pretty much destined to meet. And when they do, sparks fly...for Charlie. Gloria, well, she just thinks he's like every other freak who feels compelled to talk to her, although a little better-looking than most.
While Charlie has his head in the clouds, Gloria's got hers in a book: her Freak Folio—a record of every weirdo who's talked to her in the last year (it's a big book). But never before has she felt the pull to get to know one of them better. Until now.
In this he-said-she-said tale of love, loss, and lucky signs from the author of the acclaimed Funny Little Monkey, two young strangers at a crossroads in their lives become friends by happy accident (okay, maybe some harmless stalking is involved—and not by the person you'd think!) and forever change each other.
— Amazon.com description
Plus side: Gloria's reaction to Charlie pretty much sums up my reaction to this book: "Charlie. He was a total weirdo. And he was a poet."
This book is a total weirdo. It's filled with hyperbole, unlikely situations and more quirk than I'm used to. But it's also poetic—touching and soulful enough that I loved it anyway.
Its themes of love and grief remind me a bit of Twenty Boy Summer and A Map of the Known World, but that heaviness is nicely mixed with humor and oddity to make it all go down smoother for young male readers.
Down side: The he said/she said switch between chapters made it feel a little fragmented, and I thought that despite her obvious failings, Gloria was still put on a pedestal. But perhaps that's just being true to how teen boys think about their crushes.
Also, I'm surprised Gloria was able to get over the fact that Charlie was walking around wearing a Superman cape. But, you know, to each her own. Let your freak flag fly!
Moral of the story: "Sometimes it helps to know that there are other people out there, and that feeling different, or alone, doesn't make you that way," Charlie says.
You might also like:
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, another he said/she said story. (Or rent the movie! We can't spend all our time reading, can we?)