"Anything You Want is a light-hearted look at a hard subject, from the eyes of a boy who means well, but doesn't always know what's going on. It's a look at growing up from the inside of Taco, a happy-go-lucky boy who just wants a family." - Examiner.com
Anything You Wantby Geoff Herbach
Taco's mom always said, "Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better." That was hard to believe the day she died of cancer and when Taco's dad had to move up north for work, but he sure did believe it when Maggie Corrigan agreed to go with him to junior prom. Taco loves Maggie-even more than the tacos that earned him his nickname. And she
Taco's mom always said, "Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better." That was hard to believe the day she died of cancer and when Taco's dad had to move up north for work, but he sure did believe it when Maggie Corrigan agreed to go with him to junior prom. Taco loves Maggie-even more than the tacos that earned him his nickname. And she loves him right back.
Except, all that love? It gets Maggie pregnant. Everyone else may be freaking out, but Taco can't wait to have a real family again. He just has to figure out what it means to be dad and how to pass calculus. And then there's getting Maggie's parents to like him. Because it's would be so much easier for them to be together if he didn't have to climb the side of the Corrigan's house to see her...
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Anything You Want
By Geoff Herbach
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Geoff Herbach
All rights reserved.
When did this start? Duh, dingus. Last spring.
Last spring I decided I was completely emotionally ready for her, so I asked Maggie Corrigan to prom, and she said, "Boom," and poked her finger into the middle of my chest.
I said, "Boom? That's good, right? That's a yes?" Maggie Corrigan is intense. She's wild and crazy and intense, and I had to be prepared for all that she can be.
We stood in the hall at school, leaned up against her locker as a bunch of freshmen, a total wad of screaming monkeys, ran by on their way to gym.
Maggie shouted, "Yeah, for sure, Taco! Boom!" She poked me again.
"What?" I shouted back because I couldn't hear over the freshmen.
"I totally want to go to prom with you!"
"Really?" I shouted back.
Then she grabbed my face and pulled my ears so my head came down to her face, and she French-kissed me right there in front of all those freshmen. She, like, kissed my ass off. My pants almost exploded from my body because she kissed me so hard.
She's spontaneous like that. I knew that then, but not like I know now. And you know what? It doesn't matter because I love her. I think I've loved Maggie Corrigan since before time. In a past life, I was probably the court clown, and she was probably the Crazy Queen of Holland. And I'm pretty sure we were doing it behind the king's back. If we weren't doing it, we were probably going on long naked walks in the forest, where we stroked unicorns and lay on the dewy moss to gaze upon the sky.
All the freshmen monkeys in the hall shouted stuff like, "Get a room," and, "More tongue." Freshmen are pretty funny. I've always liked them.
That day will go down in history for sure. I really needed Maggie Corrigan's energy and love right about then.
The year before Maggie kissed my ass off, Mom died. Six months after Mom died, Dad took a job driving trucks at a mine up north because we needed more money to float the boat. Two months after Dad left for the mine, Darius, my older brother, got a drunk-driving ticket, which he said he didn't deserve because he only had like two beers after work. It's just that his blood doesn't register alcohol like normal people's blood because it's a mix of O+ and A-, which is rare, so the cops didn't know what they were doing when they gave him the Breathalyzer. Okay, that didn't exactly make sense to me, but that's good old Darius! Anyway, he lost his Pepsi product delivery route and went to work at Captain Stabby's, this fish sandwich place, for about half the money. Dude smelled like fish twenty-four seven.
So things were crap, and I began to lose the pep in my cucumber. I was seriously beginning to think my mom was wrong about everything and maybe life really is terrible like Darius always says. But then I spent a few weeks following Maggie Corrigan around school and saw how she laughed until she fell on the floor, screamed when she got mad at her friends, cried when she was sad about the basketball team losing, and smiled so hard it looked like her face might break when I told her I liked her handwriting. After that I thought, That's what Mom was talking about! Life is beautiful! And so I summoned my good feelings and my optimism, and I asked Maggie to prom. A week later we were boyfriend and girlfriend and going at it in the hall between every class period.
Literally. Going at it!
Dr. Evans, our principal, had to bring us into the office to ask us to stop all the public displays of affection. (She called them PDAs.) Turned out our exhibits of love made some people uncomfortable — like those going through hard breakups or maybe the divorce of their parents.
Maggie and I tried, but we couldn't stop going at it. Sometimes to hide from people who might feel sad, we climbed into the costume loft behind the auditorium. Sometimes we took our clothes off, mostly so we could try on costumes but also because it was pretty great to get naked. Maggie would hang out up there in her underwear, pretending she had to find the perfect costume on the rack, but really, she just liked being naked with me.
Right on. I liked it too. See why I love Maggie?
At prom, we went nuts. I'm a good dancer, one of the best in my grade, and Maggie can slice the boards with the thoroughbreds due to her training as a cheerleader. At one point we were throwing each other in the air and ripping down streamers. At another point we did the double worm — Maggie on my back, holding on for her life, me on the floor, kicking and tucking like a tsunami wave. Nobody could believe we could dance like that. The only negative moment was when I ripped my pants jumping off the DJ's table to land a split. Everybody cheered and high-fived me, but I lost the deposit on my tux, which made Darius mad because we couldn't afford any more disasters.
Still, prom was amazing. After the dance, Maggie and I climbed a firefighter tower out by Belmont. We totally got naked up there too.
I was on the hottest of all hot streaks possible. In track I ran faster than I ever had before and earned the second alternate spot on the four-by-four hundred relay team, which meant I got to go to La Crosse for the state track meet just in case those two guys got injured. We stayed in a hotel. I had to share a bed with Brad Schwartz, but it was a king-size (which was huge), so we didn't accidentally wake up spooning with our hands in our muffins. And I had the greatest breakfast of all time. Have you ever had a continental breakfast? They had one at the hotel. I ate six little boxes of Froot Loops, fourteen pieces of bacon, three cinnamon buns, and eight cups of coffee with these little blue vanilla creamers that tasted like milk mixed with frosting. What a cornucopia!
Last spring will likely go down as the greatest of my life.
And that led to summer, which was even better because Brad Schwartz's dad manages — wait for it — the swimming pool! And he hired me to be the towel boy and the janitor. During the day, I emptied the baskets of used towels and restocked the shelves with fresh ones in the men's locker room. Working inside was good because I would get pretty hot in the sun. Then when I worked at night, I got to be in the cool air while I cleaned up candy wrappers and lost socks from around the kiddie pool. One time I found a Barbie watch, and nobody claimed it, so Mr. Schwartz said I could keep it. I tried to give it to Maggie, but she said, "I'm not an eight-year-old!" so I wore it around instead. I don't know why she didn't like it. You can get it wet and it still tells time.
Speaking of Maggie, she would come to the pool at night to see me, and she'd wear a bikini, which showed off all her extreme and natural beauty. And she'd do flips off the diving boards, even the high one.
Then when my shift was done, we'd go streaking in Smith Park. I felt like a baby deer jumping over the ditches and fallen trees. Maggie's quite a bit faster than me. The girl can fly! She should have gone out for track, except her cheerleading duties would've gotten in the way.
Oh, cheerleading. Maggie was very serious about cheerleading. So it seemed to make sense when in August, after our summer of love, she started to run out of time to hang with me. Between her work at Dairy Queen and the start of fall practice, Maggie was so spent. That's what she told me. "I wish I could see you tonight, Taco, but I'm so spent."
I believed her, but I still wanted to see her. I figured it was up to me to make that happen, so I ran across Bluffton at midnight, hiding in the shadows and dodging night squirrels. When I got to her old Victorian house near the college, I'd climb the trellis on its side and slide in through her bedroom window.
Maggie was psyched to see me. But two of her sisters, younger Missy and older Mary, also shared her room, so I couldn't stay very long. They didn't like me sliding in. In fact, they'd get seriously pissed when I'd wake them up by falling on the floor or stepping on their beds. It was so dark, I couldn't see where I was going. Sometimes Maggie and Missy and Mary would get in fights because those sisters got so mad about me being in the house, sitting on their pillows or whatnot.
Maggie's parents didn't like me either, which is too bad because I totally liked them. Maggie's mom would scream at me when she caught me in her house in the middle of the night. I could totally see where Maggie got her intensity! Her mom would sort of go crazy.
In fact, it got so bad over there that Mr. Corrigan chased me down in the Piggly Wiggly (that's a grocery store) and grabbed me by my jean jacket collar and nearly threw me into a bunch of mayonnaise jars because he was so mad.
"Taco! Not again! We've been as patient as we can be, young man. We've warned you again and again. If you scale our home one more time, you'll find yourself behind bars!" he shouted.
Everybody in the store looked on like they were watching TV. Except instead of watching Cops or some show about bounty hunters, they were watching me and Mr. Corrigan.
That was tough. I love Mr. Corrigan! He has a beard, and all his jackets have leather patches on their elbows. Man, I love his jackets. He's an English professor. When I picked up Maggie for prom back in the spring, Maggie's mom was going through a list of rules for us while we were at the dance, but Mr. Corrigan told her not to worry so much. He said, "Read your Shakespeare. Sometimes the fool's the smartest man in the kingdom." He really is a fantastic guy.
But he wasn't happy that night at the Piggly Wiggly. Not at all. I didn't want him to be so upset, so I agreed I wouldn't scale their home ever again. I crossed my fingers behind my back so God wouldn't get mad at me for lying. Because you see, I absolutely had to tell Maggie that I couldn't sneak over anymore and that we'd have to find a different way to see each other. She absolutely had to hear the news from me before she heard it from someone else, so I snuck back later that same night.
This time the Corrigans were ready for me though. I got about halfway up the trellis when a big floodlight turned on and an alarm started blaring. If Mr. Corrigan had told me there was an alarm, I wouldn't have climbed the side of the house. I might have dug a tunnel into the basement or parachuted onto the roof, but I wouldn't have lost my grip and fallen into Mrs. Corrigan's raised-bed tomato garden. I had the wind knocked out of me so hard, I thought I was a dead boy.
Five minutes later all those Corrigan girls — Missy, Mary, Misha, Molly, and Maggie — were outside in their white nightgowns. They were crying, and Mr. Corrigan was on his horn, calling for an ambulance because a perpetrator (me) was lying on their lawn. Surprisingly (especially given how strict she can be), Mrs. Corrigan was nice.
"Don't you move an inch," she said.
I wanted to get up because it was uncomfortable having those tomatoes under my back, but she said, "If you move your head, you might permanently injure your spinal cord, and I don't want your father to sue us for this idiocy."
The ambulance came, and a bunch of neighbors showed up to see what was happening. After the medics immobilized my neck, I waved at the people I knew and threw Maggie a few kisses too. Maggie wanted to ride in the ambulance, but her parents wouldn't let her. Mrs. Corrigan rode in the back with me. I couldn't see her very well because of the neck brace, but it looked like she held her head in her hands the whole ride. Mr. Corrigan drove Mary and Maggie in his car. Missy had to stay home to watch Misha and Molly because those girls were pretty young and could get injured or kidnapped if left unattended.
I was really pleased to find Dr. Steidinger in the emergency room. He's my doc! He's almost ninety-seven years old, so he's quite wise. He brought me into this world, so I trust him with my life.
"Where does it hurt, Taco?" he asked.
"I popped both my lungs," I said.
He put his cold stethoscope on my chest and listened to me breathe.
"Your lungs aren't popped. They're pumping quite nicely. Any other pain?"
"My head. I might be hemorrhaging upstairs."
He shined a little flashlight into my eyeballs.
"No sign of asymmetric dilation. Why don't you sit up?"
This is when the full extent of my injuries became known. When I sat up, my butt fired pain all through my nether world and out my toes.
"Roll over," Dr. Steidinger said.
I turned and the pain got even worse.
"Lie flat on your belly. I'm going to pull down your trousers now."
"Careful! Careful!" I shouted.
"Hm. We'd better get X-rays."
"What?" I cried. "What?"
Here's the what-what. I broke my coccyx by falling off the Corrigans' house! The coccyx is the tailbone, but I was worried people wouldn't understand my truth if I told them about my tail, so I asked Dr. Steidinger if we could agree to call my injury a broken butt. We agreed to disagree on the matter, which I understood because Dr. Steidinger has a reputation to protect. I do too.
So there I was at the dawn of the new school year, which was to be my junior year at Bluffton High School, and I had a broken butt. What of football? I was slated to be the fourth-string running back! What of gym class and all the badminton birdies I might whack? What of sitting in biology or English or social studies or, most importantly, calc — the hardest class in the whole school? Unfortunately for yours truly, my butt was crushed and unable to function the way a junior's butt should.
In fact, I had to miss the first two weeks of school because it hurt so much to move. And then I had to sit on an inflatable doughnut to keep my coccyx from contact with hard surfaces. No football. No gym. Inflatable doughnut.
You might think my hot streak had ended, right? No way. If anything, life got even better. Well, maybe not in hindsight, which is twenty-twenty.
No, really, actually, I wouldn't change anything.CHAPTER 2
When Mom was a nurse and Dad drove trucks for Fendall, we were pretty much the richest people in town — or at least we were close to the richest. We had this kick-ass split-level over by Westview Elementary. I always thought of that house as a super fly mullet. You enter the front door and there're stairs that go up and stairs that go down. You go up for the business. You go down for the party. Darius and I had our bedrooms on the lower level. We also had a pool table that you could make into a Ping-Pong table and an Xbox that Darius played until his eyeballs turned into bloody discs of doom. Darius always had buddies over, and I would fire Ping-Pong balls out of my mouth at their heads until they chased me and wrestled me to the ground or whatever.
Take away Mom (because she died) and her nursing job, take away Dad's job at Fendall and send him up to drive a dump truck, like, ten thousand miles away from Bluffton, and you get a different, cheaper house — a rental on the east side of town right by the high school.
It was a prefab. That means the house was actually built in some factory and then stuck on a truck and delivered to our yard in one piece! Crazy!
In order to fit on the truck, the house was a lot smaller than the mullet house, but pretty much Darius and I were the only ones living there, so downsizing didn't mean downspacing. In fact, my bedroom was huge. It was the master suite! It had its own toilet.
I'm not sure why I got the big bedroom and Darius took the basement, except he's always liked basements. Really, Darius should've slept wherever he wanted because of all he did for me. He dropped out of tech school to work so I could keep being a normal kid. That's what he promised Mom he'd do as she pulled her last breaths. Take care of me. Stop me from becoming an adult too soon. When I got the job at the pool, he called up Mr. Schwartz to make sure the job ended before school started because he didn't want me working during the school year. He also put all my money away for college instead of letting me spend it. Darius really took his Taco caretaking seriously. He really tried at times, even though he's messed up.
The first two weeks of September were amazing. Because of my broken butt, I couldn't really walk, so I had to stay home from school.
Excerpted from Anything You Want by Geoff Herbach. Copyright © 2016 Geoff Herbach. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Wee Wisconsin boy, Geoff Herbach wanted to play for the Green Bay Packers or join The Three Stooges. His tight hamstrings left him only writing. Now he writes YA novels, including the award-winning Stupid Fast series, and teaches at Minnesota State, Mankato where he blows his students' minds with tales of football and comedy glory, none of which are true. Visit www.geoffherbach.com for more information about the author, his books, and much more.
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geoff is bad
I would like to thank Sourcebooks Fire & NetGalley for a copy of this e-ARC to review. Though I received this ebook for free, that has no impact upon the honesty of my review. I'll admit that I was pretty skeptical after reading the first few sentences of the book. The language and cadence of Taco's speech and thoughts just didn't speak to me. Given that he's the narrator of the story that could have been a big problem. Luckily, as the story progressed I found myself more and more taken with Taco's exuberance for life and everything it contained. Yet I never was able to quite get past the impression of 'stoned surfer dude' that his speech and thoughts seemed to project. Taco, Maggie, and Darius are all intriguing characters, each of whom grow in depth as the story progressed. But again Taco is clearly the central character around who everyone else revolves. That's not because he's selfish, because in fact he's an incredibly generous and thoughtful person. It's simply that this story is about Taco's life choices, and the lessons he eventually learns from them. And given the situation he and Maggie find themselves in I was surprised that Maggie's point of view wasn't more prominent. In fact Maggie was almost an afterthought throughout the story other than how Taco related to her, which was unusual. Normally stories about teen pregnancy issues are from the female's point of view and tend to be her story rather than his story. So in that regard this was uniquely creative. Some of the messages are crystal clear, such as the consequences of having unprotected sex. Especially daily unprotected monkey sex. But there are more subtle messages as well, one of which comes up before the wild, monkey sex begins, yet it's most definitely related. And while the life lessons contained within are powerful and obvious, they are so well integrated with Taco's story that they don't feel like a treatise on the appropriate ways to behave lest you face certain penalties. But it's also about growing up, not just physically, but emotionally too. It's certainly not just Taco who is wrestling with the challenges that come with maturing. After their mother's death, Darius struggled for years to be a parent to Taco, while their father skipped out on them for all intensive purposes. But Darius was far to young to step in as a parent to his kid brother, and it's showing. His breakdown provides a great example to Taco about the cost of parenting and all that it takes; even if Taco doesn't consciously take note of the correlation. Overall this is a pretty happy story, even with all the hardships Taco faces. And a huge part of that has to do his attitude towards life. An attitude his mom inspired, for she told him that every day is his best day. Today is his best day, tomorrow is his best day, etc.; which is how he manages to live in the now so well. In fact, some might say to well. And therein is yet one more of those life lessons that Taco is faced with, how to find the right balance to let him stay in the now while still keeping his eye on his future. Though I stumbled a bit at the beginning, I can comfortably say this book grew on me. Even if parts of it were more than a tad unrealistic. But then maybe that's part of its charm? Either way it's a fun read, complete with solid lessons that don't feel forced in any way, shape, or form. And I feel confident saying that Taco is tough to resist. I dare you to try. Go on, I dare you!
I’m going to put it right out there. I really disliked “Anything You Want.” Had it not been for the ending this would be a one star review. Taco, our main character, is dealing with the loss of his mom, an absent dad, an alcoholic brother, and now an unexpected pregnancy with his girlfriend. Now, I actually read the author defending Taco as an incurable optimist. My dislike for Taco is not due to that, or the fact that he’s not the smartest item on the menu, but because the way he is written is absolutely annoying. There can’t be someone that clueless and still function in life. I was legitimately concerned he was unable to even consent to sex. He’s naive to the point that you wonder if he was raised away from society, including magazines and television. The slang he used grated on my last nerve. I’m going to stop myself there. Suffice it to say, I can’t recommend “Anything You Want” to anyone. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Five stars* Here's the thing. This is Geoff Herbach. I've only read one of Geoff's other YA book so far, but that was enough for me to know that Geoff has a distinct voice. He writes like a teenage guy who may not be the most intelligent thing in the world but has a humacious heart (and a whole lot of things going on that he has no control over). If you don't like Geoff's voice, you probably won't like AYW. (Check out his other books. Read a first chapter online. See if his thing is your sort of thing, too, before assuming he's not going to sound like a guy.) Personally, I LOVE Geoff's voice. I love how real his books are. I love how you think the narrator is just telling you all of this random stuff (and sometimes you're like, "Okay, TMI...") but the storyline slowly unravels and you begin to understand WHY the characters are doing the dumb stuff they are. I love how even if you think some of them are crazy, or you don't trust them, you suddenly find yourself starting to ROOT for them because they're not just two-dimensional, obnoxious characters, they're REAL. They're the kind of characters you'd want to get to know in real life because they'd bring a smile to your face. They're your friend's brother. Your neighbor across the street. That kid your daughter hangs out with once in a while who seems sweet (but secretly, you feel sorry for them and wish you could just give 'em a big 'ol hug). Anything You Want is a book about a guy who has lost a lot and has to keep on keeping on, regardless; then does something dumb and has to figure out how to solve a problem that is quite unsolvable. He has had no choice but to grow up, and grow up he does. BUT. His mother has died, his dad is a jerk, his brother's out of control, he's still in high school--and he ACTS LIKE A TEENAGE BOY. (Not some perfect AP student, let's not get all hipster/perfect student/stereotypical here--Taco is just a kid trying to get by the best he knows how with what he's got.) How many teen pregnancies are there? (A lot.) How many times did one or both sexes end up assuming it somehow just wouldn't happen to them? (A lot.) This is not new. This is not surprising. This is, a lot of times, life. Is Taco naive? YES. Is he probably a little too into Maggie and her sensuous ways? YES. But the kid is young and doing what he can figure out what to do. He's not mature. (He wants to be, of course.) He's flailing around trying to make something of everything and he's doing a dang good job of it, if you ask me. It's his personality; it's the way Geoff wrote him. And I love him for it. This book isn't just a random character who is a bit naive and ends up a dad way before he planned to. It's a book about love, and growing up, and learning to let go of the things holding you back and being willing to say, "Yeah, this seems like a crap decision at the moment, and boy have I made a lot of those, but in the big, grand scheme of things, this is the mature way to go." It's about being considerate of others. It's about family. Like I said, I love Geoff's voice. I love who Taco refers to throughout the entire book. I will read anything Herbach because he is honest and writes real people and brings a whole different voice to the YA table. He writes what people think all the time, and are often too afraid to voice. And honestly, in the world of YA, I think it's pertinent that characters like his come alive. *I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
(1.5 stars) I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. It was ok, but didn’t grab me. And to be honest I’m not a fan of Taco. He seemed oblivious to the world. I really couldn’t understand him. He drove me bonkers. Taco, is a high schooler and has been love with Maggie for quite some time. Like any normal teenager they decided to do something, without exactly thinking of the consequences. He gets himself into so much trouble. It’s gotta be difficult to live without his mother and his father. Who really isn’t a father at all. And Darius his brother isn’t that great either. It seemed that they all had their own personal issues. Taco is an over thinker and he did it constantly. I don’t know why, but dingus popped up like everywhere in the book. It just came so repetitive. It almost felt like Taco was writing in a Journal at times. Wasn’t sure if that was how it was suppose to be done. Unless, I totally missed something along the way. But I did make through to the end. It had it’s good parts. He was trying to keep the optimism alive. Overall, for me it was just ok....Lissa