Finished April 26
The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle, read by the author
This YA novel tells the story of sixteen-year-old Quinn Roberts from his point of view. Quinn wanted to be a screenwriter from a young age, after meeting the older brother of his new neighbour who was just starting out in the industry. He corralled his older sister Annabeth and his best friend Geoff into his dream. Annabeth directed the movies he wrote and Geoff was the main actor.
But as the book opens, we learn that Annabeth died six months ago in a car accident, and Quinn has retreated into his room since then, with little contact with others. His mother has also retreated into a world of sadness, leaving mail unopened and not going out. Quinn has been getting some therapy, through Skype sessions, but it isn't until Geoff forces him out on an excursion to replace his dead air conditioner that he starts to move on. The two buy the air conditioner, but go on to a party hosted by Geoff's older sister, who's at college, and Quinn begins to interact with others. At first it is with these college kids, who don't know about the tragedy in his life, but it gradually expands.
Quinn begins to understand that he's not the only one grieving Annabeth, and he needs to realize his dreams still have possibilities.
Quinn is gay, but has never admitted that to anyone, not even Annabeth or Geoff, and as he comes out of his self-imposed retreat from the world, he also begins to come out personally. This is a story of loss and grief, of growth and risk. It is a coming of age story with a twist. There is humour and sadness, but above all great writing, and the author's reading makes it come to life thoroughly.