The Loser's Guide to Life and Love

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love

4.5 16
by A. E. Cannon
     
 

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Ordinary, boring Ed works a loser summer job at Reel Life Movies, where he doesn't even have his own name tag. He's stuck with "Sergio." Ed's only consolations are his two best friends. Shelving DVDs isn't so mind-numbingly dull with Scout cracking jokes, and after hours Ed hangs out with the superbrain, Quark. Life starts to look up when the girl of his dreams

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Overview

Ordinary, boring Ed works a loser summer job at Reel Life Movies, where he doesn't even have his own name tag. He's stuck with "Sergio." Ed's only consolations are his two best friends. Shelving DVDs isn't so mind-numbingly dull with Scout cracking jokes, and after hours Ed hangs out with the superbrain, Quark. Life starts to look up when the girl of his dreams saunters into Reel Life. Ed knows he doesn't stand a chance . . . but maybe, just maybe Sergio does. All he has to do is pretend to be a smoldering Brazilian stud for the rest of his life. Simple, right? But . . . Ed's new dream girl has her own secrets, Scout wants to be more than Ed's best friend, and his buddy Quark wants Scout for himself.

Star-crossed crushes make for hilarious misunderstandings as Ed guides his life toward disaster in this fresh, contemporary twist on Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kristy Lyn Sutorius
The growing number of Shakespeare retellings wouldn't be complete without the modern teen's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Cannon captures most of the magic that old Will does with this summertime tale. When his boss at Reel Life Movies gives him a badge with the name Sergio on it, Ed McIff decides to don more than the new name. He creates an elaborate Brazilian alter ego to win the heart of a pretty visitor to Salt Lake City named Ellie. In keeping with the original, our hero is blind to his true feelings for the heroine, Scout. Working alongside Ed at Reel Movies, Scout doesn't put up with Ed's new facade and a fated kiss is all it takes to throw their friendship into a tailspin. In an effort to submerse her characters in Salt Lake life, a backdrop of Mormonism and world-traveling neighbors, Cannon gives Ed's friends more knowledge of Sergio's supposed homeland than your average teen, but it works. Aside from a few awkward scenarios involving the "resident born-again Christian," T. Monroe, there's very little here that wouldn't appeal to your average teen guy, struggling to figure out his game. Told from four different viewpoints in letters, e-mails, and confessions, the conflict is resolved in a scintillating manner. Under a starry sky, with dragonflies aflutter, love abounds and All's Well That End's Well. Recommend Street Love by Walter Dean Myers and Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Winzer for those who can't get enough. Reviewer: Kristy Lyn Sutorius
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Ed McIff works at Reel Life Movies. He describes himself as a short loser who never gets the girl. He is such a nothing that the nametag he wears doesn't even have his own name on it. So when beautiful Ellie Fenn comes into the store and calls him "Sergio," he has no intention of setting the record straight. Ellie is in town spending the summer with her aunt and uncle, trying to put behind her a relationship with an older boy, a smarmy college student who only wanted to take advantage of the pretty innocence Ellie exudes. "Sergio" seems like a nice boy and the other Reel Life Movies employee, Scout, is the first best friend she feels she has ever had. Scout is a perky, athletic friend of Ed's, who is becoming aware that maybe she wants to be more than a friend to Ed just about the time that Ed's best friend, Quentin Andrews O'Rourke, also known as Quark, develops a crush on her. "What fools these mortals be!" says the Bard, and this novel is a playful adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, complete with the tall, dark Reel Life Movie employer and his mysterious girlfriend, the Warrior Princess. Told by each of the teen protagonists in turn, readers will be drawn into the characters' lives and loves during the ten days prior to the Midsummer Night's costume party. Ed and his friends are good kids and their foibles are the stuff that adolescent nightmares are made of: what if my best friend and I were both in love with the same person? Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

Summertime in Salt Lake City finds four friends falling in and out of love and lust. Ed, the goofball, works in a local DVD rental store with no-nonsense, regency-romance-loving Scout, who happens to harbor a major crush on him. Enter gorgeous, vivacious Ellie, who sweeps Ed off his feet with one toss of her hair, and for whom he devises a sexy, Brazilian alter ego named Sergio, as in Mendez, to impress. Meanwhile, Ed's computer geek BFF, Quark, pines for Scout. Crushes, confusions, mistaken identities, and lighthearted humor run amok in this well-written, clean, simple romance. The characters aren't exactly memorable, but they're cleverly drawn in broad strokes of jokingly concise dialogue, most of which will sound familiar to teen readers. They are bright, intelligent, and mature beyond their years. In the teen book world, unfortunately, this doesn't necessarily add up to attention-grabbing plot tension. What results is a solid, safe book that doesn't push any buttons, which may put off readers looking for something more dynamic.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
Ed not only has to wear a frilly tuxedo to his job at Reel Life Movies video and DVD rental, he's got a hand-me-down nametag. His pseudonym "Sergio" inspires him, however, to impress the gorgeous Ellie with a fake Brazilian accent. This only annoys his best friend Scout, who secretly has a crush on him, and complicates relations with his other friend Quark, who secretly has a crush on Scout. Begin to see the setup? The very loose allusions to A Midsummer Night's Dream end around there. The alternating voices that convey the narrative in a variety of forms are uneven instead of engaging: Though Ed and Scout are convincing enough in their roles as totally-regular guy and gal, Ellie and Quark never rise beyond their stereotypes of lonely, brilliant beauty and geek. Mediocrity of storytelling aside, the romantic tension is palpable, there is a Shakespearean climax replete with costumes and kissing, and thus-inclined readers will find here at least a few hours of satisfying, if fleeting, romance. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A sweet, almost mystical sensibility pervades the story. Young readers who are looking for romance will warm to this.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A sweet, almost mystical sensibility pervades the story. Young readers who are looking for romance will warm to this."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“A sweet, almost mystical sensibility pervades the story. Young readers who are looking for romance will warm to this.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A sweet, almost mystical sensibility pervades the story. Young readers who are looking for romance will warm to this.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061919220
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/30/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

A. E. Cannon is the author of numerous books for young people, including Cal Cameron by Day, Spiderman by Night, winner of the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel; The Shadow Brothers, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an American Bookseller Pick of the List; and Amazing Gracie, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA 100 Best of the Best Young Adult Books of the Past 25 Years. A. E. Cannon currently writes a weekly humor column for the Deseret Morning News. She has five sons and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, a parrot, two cats, and a dog that doesn't like her much.

Read an Excerpt

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love
A Novel

Chapter One

Ed's Turn

"You look like a total dork, Ed," says my eight-year-old sister, the Lovely and Talented Maggie McIff, as I prepare to go to work at Reel Life Movies.

She has looked up from her unnaturally large pile of nude Barbie dolls long enough to make this encouraging observation, and as I catch a glimpse of myself in the entryway mirror, I have to agree (silently) that she is right. Let me make this quick director's note, however: Even if you were a movie star, you too would look like a dork if you were required to wear shiny wingtips, black tuxedo pants, a red cummerbund, a white frilly shirt, and snappy red bow tie to work. Reel Life employees are supposed to look like old-fashioned ushers at a place like Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, although most of our customers say we look like Chippendale dancers.

Just not as chiseled.

It also does not help that I have to wear a former Reel Life employee's name tag because my boss (that would be the incredibly intimidating Ali) hasn't made me a new one even though I've been working for three weeks now. The strange thing is that Ali is usually all over this kind of detail. Everybody knows he's the most organized and efficient manager in the whole entire history of the video and DVD rental industry.

Makes you wonder what's going on, doesn't it?

Anyway, my friend and fellow coworker Scout Arrington helped me land the job because she knows I love movies as much as she does. In fact, here's a confession: I want to make movies of my own one day.

Do not laugh.

It could happen. I could be the nextSteven Spielberg. Somebody has to be.

Right now, however, I am just an ordinary, boring sixteen-year-old guy named Ed McIff with a name tag that says "Sergio."

Sergio?

Scout says "Sergio" sounds like the name of a romantic male lead in a daytime soap.

"Well, that would definitely make me the Anti-Sergio," I tell her, because (frankly) I am not the kind of guy women have fantasies about. For one thing, I'm short.

"Tom Cruise isn't that big of a guy," my mom always says. I love how she tries to avoid using the word "short."

"Yeah," I tell her in return, "but he compensates by being Tom Cruise." Not that anyone really wants to be Tom Cruise anymore now that he's a crazy couch jumper. But whatever.

I check the entryway mirror one more time. Yup. I'm still short.

"You usually look like a dork," the Lovely and Talented Maggie McIff adds for clarification purposes, "but tonight you look dorkier than usual because your hair is sticking up." She serenely braids beads into the hair of one of her bare-naked Barbie dolls.

"Thank you very much," I say. "Now how would YOU like it if I borrowed Quark's junior chemistry set and blew up all your Barbie dolls while you're asleep tonight?"

Quark (short for Quentin Andrews O'Rourke) is our next-door neighbor. We're exactly the same age-we were even born on the same day and used to have our birthday parties together when we were little-but that's where the resemblance ends. He's a brainiac who goes to a private high school for certified geniuses somewhere out in Sandy, a community south of Salt Lake City, where we live.

Quark is also a genius who happens to look exactly like Brad Pitt, in spite of the fact that he a) rarely combs his hair and b) gets mixed up when it comes to putting on matching clothes. He's freakishly tall, though, so I guess you could say he looks like Brad Pitt would if B. P. were suffering from some rare movie-star glandular disorder.

Quark, however, has absolutely no idea that he's good-looking, and he wouldn't care anyway, because Quark lives for the thrill of scientific investigation.

The Lovely and Talented's big eyes grow bigger.

"You wouldn't dare blow up my Barbies," she cries, gathering them up like a mother hen gathering up her chicks. Or however that cliché goes.

"Do not push me," I warn her, looking into the mirror one last time. "I'm one of those walking human time bombs"-speaking of clichés!-"ready to explode."

"It's almost six," Mom calls to me from the kitchen. "Time to be at work, Ed."

"I'm on my way," I shout back.

"See you later . . . Sergio," she trills at me. Then she bursts into gales of maniacal laughter, not unlike a mad scientist.

Is it just me, or do you also think this is unnatural behavior in a female parent? Isn't there a federal law on the books that says mothers are not allowed to laugh at vulnerable male children when they are required to wear stupid clothing to work?

There should be.

I open our ordinary, boring front door and let myself out into another ordinary, boring summer night.

On my way to work (I'm driving my mother's highly pathetic vintage Geo), I write the following script in my head, which is something I like to do when things get slow. I'm thinking this might make an interesting documentary for PBS. What's your opinion?

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love
A Novel
. Copyright (c) by A. Cannon . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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