As his junior year ends, people keep asking Sean Norwhalt what he’ll do next. But it’s hard to focus on that, when his alcoholic father is gone and he’s living with his mother in a crappy rental. Then a pretty senior’s Frisbee hits in him the face, and suddenly he has a girlfriend—his first. Mesrobian, who took on hookup culture in her acclaimed debut, Sex and Violence, excels at conveying the awkwardness and wonder of sex, and the erotic life of a teenage boy (in this case featuring Sean’s constant, albeit inconvenient hormonal companion, “The Horn”). Sean’s not interested in college, and the main events of senior year are his job at the Thrift Bin; his growing friendship with Neecie, a classmate and co-worker with her own sex quandary; and deciding whether to join the Marines. As Sean comes to some peace with his family, spends time with Neecie, and makes some decisions, nothing very dramatic happens. Yet Mesrobian deftly conveys just how much drama there is in the everyday, especially for a 17-year-old trying to figure out not just what’s next, but what’s happening right now. Ages 13–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Sean Norwhalt cannot believe his luck when Hallie, a hot senior girl, picks him to hook up with at the end of the year Spring Party. He thinks he might finally have hit a lucky patch after the crappy year he has had. His dad left, the family had to move to a rundown rental across town, and his job at the Thrift Bin is less than desirable. But when summer ends and she dumps him before she heads off to college, Sean cannot help but feel that nothing ever goes his way. He decides to join the Marine Corps, he cannot wait to skip town and never look back. When he strikes up an unlikely friendship with fellow classmate Neecie, however, he begins to rethink his views on relationships, sex, and family. Suddenly the idea of leaving may not be as enticing as it once was. In this strong novel, Mesrobian once again makes readers take a second look at the teenage world of casual hookups, teenage sexuality, secrets, and the masked innocence of even the most experienced teens. While the writing is engaging and the poignant storyline has its audience, the sexually explicit language is not for the younger readers. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta; Ages 14 up.
VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Stephanie Wilkes
Sean Norwhalt does not want to go to college and he has no idea what he wants to do with his life. Fate intervenes with a freak Frisbee accident and all of a sudden, he has a girlfriendand a hot one, at that. Soon after losing his virginity, however, Sean’s world is again rocked when the hot girlfriend leaves for college and decides that a boyfriend is not what she wants. Secretly deciding to go into the Marines, Sean quietly continues working at the Thrift Barn and trying to get through his senior year. But when he starts spending more time with a quiet co-worker, Neecie, he begins to fall for her and questions his decisions. Peppered with frank hormonal monologues and frequent references to his nether regions as “The Horn,” Sean is your everyday, slacker seventeen-year-old. The gritty language and frequent discussions of smoking pot, drinking, and sex will appeal to any older reluctant reader; however, the rapid decline of the plot’s momentum may leave this book as unfinished. Reviewer: Stephanie Wilkes; Ages 15 to 18.
An honest, insightful novel about a young man's final year in high school and his eventual decision, which he initially conceals from his family, to join the Marines. At the outset, Sean spends a lot of time ducking the chiding of his overbearing older brother and cursing the crappy rental he and his mom have lived in since she left his alcoholic father. When he manages to hook up with superhot Hallie the summer before she leaves for college, he thinks his luck may finally be changing. However, as he navigates his way through an emotionally trying senior year, it turns out instead to be his friend and co-worker, Neecie, whom he just may be falling for. Intensely introspective first-person narration suits Sean's stoic character very well. His thoughts are often both subversively smart and hilarious—particularly in their treatment of the subtext of communication across gender. When Hallie worries that he's upset that she doesn't want to have sex at first, he thinks, incredulously: "Was she kidding? We were almost naked. My hands were on her tits. She was giving me a handjob. Why would I be mad?" Engaging, perceptive, witty and at times gut-wrenchingly sad—this is an extraordinary addition to fiction for teens and adults alike. (Fiction. 14 & up)