Henry Arlington is a self-confessed ladies' man (his personal rules include "Never tell a girl your real name" and "No hos before bros"). But all it takes is a chance encounter with knockout new girl Garrett, and he is contemplating breaking another rule--no girlfriends. Their relationship evolves in alternating firstperson chapters; Henry becomes more sympathetic as it becomes clear that his attitude toward women stems from abandonment by his mother, though his love of film (evidenced mostly by conversations that appear in screenplay format) feels as artificial as the incorporation of song titles and lyrics into Garrett's narration--"Then my thoughts turn to Ben and ‘The Day We Fell Apart' (Kelly Clarkson, 2009)." The secondary characters, from the J Squad clique to Henry's oafish cohorts, never amount to more than stereotypes. Still, the emotional intensity--sometimes passionate, sometimes tender--that develops between Garrett and Henry should help some readers care about them enough to want to find out whether, against the odds, they can make their love work. Ages 14-up. (June)
From the Publisher
"Ted Michael has found a totally unique (and irresistible) teen novel formula with his new book think Wedding Crashers meets John Tucker Must Die. Be sure to check out this hilarious (and honest) portrait of what high school romances are really like."
"A heartening, sweet story - as refreshing as a road trip in a convertible with your funniest friend behind the wheel. I loved this book so much, I was laughing the whole way through!" Lauren Kate, New York Times bestselling author of Fallen
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Self-proclaimed player and party crasher Henry Arlington has every intention of following the "Crasher Code" that he and his buddies established, including never being with the same girl twice. But while cruising a Sweet Sixteen party with a fictitious identity, he meets beautiful and intriguing Garrett Lennox. New to East Shore High School, she struggles to make friends among the cliques of the senior class. While Henry ignores her and perpetuates the rumor that they hooked up at the party, Garrett is given a proposal by three mean girls, the J Squad. Lonely and missing her ex-boyfriend back in Chicago, she decides to accept the trio's challenge—in exchange for membership in their group, she must convince Henry to be her boyfriend and then dump him at a hotly anticipated, MTV-aired Sweet Sixteen party. As readers will anticipate, they wind up forming real feelings for one another and are faced with the consequences of their separate deceptions. Using interspersed movie-script format for dialogue and song references throughout, the narrative is trendy and indulgent. The evolution of Garrett's and Henry's characters is difficult to believe, and the supporting characters are stock and one- dimensional. However, romance fans will enjoy the familiar theme of reluctant, ill-fated love and entertainment aficionados will appreciate the popular-culture references. While the events surrounding the demise of the relationship stretch believability, the ending is realistic if not rewarding.—Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD
Henry is "not the girlfriend type of guy." He enjoys crashing Sweet Sixteen parties with his buddies Duke and Nigel and conning gullible, pretty girls into sex. When he meets Garrett, though, Henry rethinks his boyfriend potential. Garrett desperately wants to be accepted at her new high school in her senior year, and the key to that is the "J Squad" clique. The admission price is to hook Henry and then publicly dump him in retaliation for how he's treated them. Predictably, Henry falls in love with Garrett, and she develops feelings for him, too. Their mutual love of motion pictures draws them together, but in the end, Garrett breaks up with Henry, although not for the J Squad. Henry is heartbroken but has the expected epiphanies about relationships, sex, etc. Neither Henry nor Garrett is particularly well developed, despite alternating first-person narrations (occasionally punctuated by script-like dialogue), nor is either especially likable. The movie-fan angle gives some novelty to a familiar story but not enough to make it more than mediocre escapism. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Read an Excerpt
I am not the girlfriend type of guy.
I want to get it out there and be completely honest.
I am not the girlfriend type of guy.
I won’t: hold your hand, buy you flowers, have dinner with your parents.
I will: kiss you until your legs collapse and you beg me to lift you up and start all over again.
I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, ladies, but you should know exactly what you’re getting into.
It’s only fair.
INT.—BACKSEAT OF MY CAR, SATURDAY NIGHT, LABOR DAY WEEKEND
I am bored.
And I was like, really, you like my hair like this? On top of my head?
Because I think it looks better in braids. I know that sounds so third grade, but it’s true!
Don’t you agree, Reinaldo?
(even blanker stare)
I forget she is talking to me because my name is not Reinaldo. It’s what I told her my name is, though, so it makes sense she’s calling me that. I try to remember her name—Marissa? Marisol? Something with an M?—but I can’t. I suddenly wish I hadn’t suggested we leave the party to be alone in my car. It’s much easier to tune someone out in a large group. But here we are, in the back of my Jeep. I think about how many girls I’ve been with in this very same position. Our legs are touching, and even though it’s the time I would normally make my move, I have a gnawing feeling this is not going to happen. Whoever this girl is sitting next to me, she seems incredibly . . . young. But it’s still worth a shot.
Did you hear a single thing I just said?
Maybe you should take your dress off—it’s really hot in here.
(giving me a look I don’t even have to describe)
You are a pig, Reinaldo! A pig!
She slams my car door behind her as she leaves. I am slightly upset. Not because I liked her (she was boring) or because she thinks I’m a pig (I am) or even because it’s pretty clear I’m not getting any tonight; I am upset because I can usually pick them pretty well. Girls, that is. I can see a girl and know within seconds what her deal is. What she likes and what she hates and whether she moans when she’s being kissed. It’s a talent I have. Some people are good with numbers. I am good with women.
Just not this one. The Hello Kitty hair clip should’ve tipped me off.
I get out of my car. It’s dark, but not too dark. Even though I’m standing in the parking lot I can hear the noise coming from inside the hotel. Music. Dance music. You should know that I love to dance. Love to dance. Not professionally or anything, but in a club where it’s loud and crazy. That’s one of the reasons I dig parties. I like to have a good time. And there’s nothing wrong with that—despite what anybody says.
This particular party is a Sweet Sixteen for a girl who goes to my high school. Usually when I crash Sweet Sixteens, I like to go where no one knows me and I can pretend to be someone else entirely. I get a rush from sneaking into a party I wasn’t invited to and dancing. Well, not just dancing. Finding a cute girl to hook up with and hopefully making a little mischief in the process. Escaping the monotony of life for a few hours. Duke and Nigel (my co-crashers) have never understood this about me, and they probably never will. They just think crashing parties is fun. They don’t know firsthand the need to escape. To flee. To invent fake names and fake pasts and know that someone, some girl, actually believes it all. This makes me feel powerful. It also makes me kind of an asshole, but I don’t really care.
This is probably why I love movies so much. The idea of transforming into an entirely different person on-screen than who you are in real life. You would think that’d make me a wannabe actor, but I’m not. I do want to study film in college, though, and write screenplays. Like Charlie Kaufman or Alan Ball or Joel and Ethan Coen. I want to make movies, to create something from nothing. Every day I imagine my interactions as part of one big script; I see things as if my whole existence is on film. I’ve been this way for a while now, and I can’t imagine changing anytime soon. I want to be a writer so I can hide behind a computer or even a pen and paper and make decisions by myself. Without anyone interfering. Without anyone saying no.
From the Trade Paperback edition.