The Gospel According to Larry (Larry Series #1)

The Gospel According to Larry (Larry Series #1)

by Janet Tashjian

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After creating a controversial and hugely popular website, teenager Josh Swensen becomes trapped inside his brilliant creation and must find a way to remain anonymous.

I am lying on my bed doing my homework in Greek and Latin roots for Advanced English. ‘Ped' for foot, ‘homo' for man, ‘nym' for name. I sit with the dictionary in front of me, coming up with as many words as I can to complete the assignment. Pedestrian, homicide, pseudonym . . . I have more than thirty of them. By accident—that's always how these life-changing things happen—I connect two halves that don't seem like a word until I look it up. ‘Pseudo,' false; and ‘cide,' to kill = pseudocide. To pretend to kill (yourself).

I stare at the word for a good long time. Homicide, suicide, genocide: these are words you can find in the newspaper every day. But pseudocide . . . now here was something different. My mind wanders from my homework to the blue cotton threads of my bedspread. Pseudocide. A way to start again as someone completely new, a way to burn the old self and try on a new one.

Josh Swensen isn't your average teenager—when he observes America, he sees a powerhouse of consumerism and waste. He's even tried to do something about it, with his controversial start-up website. But when Josh rises to messiah status of the internet world, he discovers that greed and superficiality are not easily escaped. Trapped inside his own creation, Josh feels his only way out is to stage his death and be free of his internet alter-ego, "Larry." But this plan comes with danger, and soon Josh finds himself cut off from the world, with no one to turn to for help. In this suspenseful young adult novel, The Gospel According to Larry, Janet Tashjian has written a probing tour-de-force.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250044389
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 07/15/2014
Series: Janet Tashjian's Larry Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 124,239
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.68(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Janet Tashjian is the author of many popular novels including My Life as a Book, My Life as a Stuntboy, My Life as a Cartoonist, Larry and the Meaning of Life, Vote for Larry, The Gospel According to Larry, Fault Line, Multiple Choice, and Tru Confessions. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

Read an Excerpt

Part One

"I haven't enjoyed a rant this much since Thoreau," Beth said. "We need people stirring up the way we think about things."

My best friend, Beth, was trying to talk me into forming a Larry study group with her. His Web site received hundreds of hits a day, mostly from teens and college students. No one knew Larry's identity, and that conjecture alone was the source of several companion Web sites. Many kids at school were fans, but Beth was rabid.

"Josh, I know neither one of us has ever joined a club in our life," she said. "But that's precisely why we should."

I tried to listen to the details of her story, I really did, but there is something about Beth's mouth that gets in the way of paying attention to its contents. She often wore a certain brown lipstick and outlined the edges of her lips with this pencil she carried in her bag. Every time she talked, it was like this pale chocolate snowcone staring up at me, waiting to be eaten. I've been in love with her since sixth grade, but she didn't have a clue.

"I'll help you with the club," I said. "But just so the two of us can bag all the meetings and laugh at the other people who show up."

She wasn't amused. "This isn't a joke. Someone is finally talking about the things I've been saying all along, and I think it's important to help spread the word. Are you in or are you out?"

"Of course I'm in. I can't let you do this on your own. Next thing I know you'll be running for prom queen or something."

She punched me in the arm, her usual form of affection. "Hey, why don't you help me at the store this afternoon? We're having a run on shovels."

Beth's father'shardware store had been our work/tree house/summer camp since grammar school. Sorting the nuts and bolts, counting the different lightbulbs, shoveling the woodchips into wheelbarrows had never seemed like a job to either of us. The small store prided itself on carrying everything a homeowner could need, but for a loner like me it was a nonthreatening way to be a part of the community without too much social pressure. I told Beth I'd meet her there at four.

For a brief moment I pretended we were a couple, not snowbound outside Boston, but romping through the Caribbean surf--tan and in love. My fantasy shattered, however, when she waved goodbye and headed across the cafeteria to Todd Terrific--a new jock she was obsessed with. Can someone please explain to me how this preoccupation with dopey athletes happens even to headstrong young women who work in hardware stores and score 1350s on their SATs? Beth, what are you doing to me? Life was cruel and unfair--what did this Larry guy have to say about that?

The rest of school went by like the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray wakes up and every day is the same, down to the last boring details. Even when something new did happen--fire drill, substitute teacher--it was still just a giant yawn in the storyline. To keep myself amused during study hall, I invented a new alphabet based on the sense of smell.

At home that night, I booted up my laptop and logged on. I checked my e-mail, then the small portfolio of stocks my mother left me when she died. I made one last online stop: to Larry. I wondered if Beth was doing the same thing at the same time--an unrequited cyberdate.

The Larry logo filled the screen--a peace sign with a dove, a floppy disk, a planet, and a plug inside each of its four sections. I scrolled down through several photographs to comments people had written that day: puljohn posted a new link to Adbusters. Toejam ranted about Larry's last sermon, calling it brilliantly flawed. I was in the middle of reading his argument when Peter knocked quickly, then stuck his head in my room.

"Want some leftover pizza?"

My stepfather was the ultimate businessman; even in his terrycloth robe and slippers with the squashed heels, he could command his advertising consulting firm from the brink of failure to unbridled success. He had the whole sales thing down--the firm handshake, the warm smile, the good listening. It was the real Peter, not put on, like lots of other guys at his company.

He looked over my shoulder and checked out the screen.

"I've heard about this Larry," he said. "Some guy bashing our culture online. Anonymous coward."

"Some people think it's one of the big televangelists trying to reach the teen market. Or maybe it's a bored housewife in the suburbs looking for something to do."

Peter shook his head. "Probably some hacker trying to make a name for himself."

"I'll add that to the list of hypotheses," I said.

"You do that." He handed me a slice of pizza on a paper towel. "Dinner at Katherine's tomorrow. That okay with you?"

"Sure. Great." Katherine was my stepfather's girlfriend who had been putting on the full-court press to be the next Mrs. Swensen. I didn't have the nerve to tell Peter I found her as interesting as a bag of rice.

Peter closed the door and headed downstairs to his office. I browsed the Larry archives, then printed out the latest sermon to prepare for Beth tomorrow.

Sermon #93

Slip on your Gap jeans, your Nike T-shirt, your Reeboks--or maybe even your Cons if you think that makes you cool and ironic in a Kurt Cobain kind of way. Grab your Adidas backpack, ride to school on your Razor, drink your Poland Spring, eat your PowerBar, write a paper on your iMac, slip on your Ralph Lauren windbreaker. Buy the latest CD from Tower, check the caller ID to see who's on the phone, eat your Doritos, drink your Coke. Stare at the TV till you're stupefied.

Is there any time of the day when we're not being used and abused by the advertising companies? Can we have an inch of free space, do you mind? Some ambitious kids rent their head space--the outside, not the inside (although the inside space is certainly emptier)--to local companies by shaving ads into their hair for all their friends to see. It's just a matter of time before corporations figure out a way to sell you stuff while you're sleeping. Maybe some kind of vitamin that releases visual and sonic enzymes that run like a ticker tape through your dreams--ALL THE LATEST RELEASES NOW AT BLOCKBUSTER ... CHEESIER NACHOS AT CHILI'S . . . BY THE WAY, YOU'RE SNORING. . . .

Am I the only one who sees the irony of sitting in lit class reading 1984, having a discussion of Big Brother watching out for us like it's some time way in the future? Some science fiction nightmare that's never really going to happen? Hel-lo? Our lives couldn't be more dictated by the corporations if they gave our schools A/V equipment in exchange for making us watch commercials in class.

Oh yeah, they do that already.

Never mind.

Good thing Peter hadn't hung around for that one. By two a.m., I had fourteen pages of notes for the new Larry club. When I added up all the things I'd done for Beth over the years, I figured it was more effort than they put into developing the last space shuttle.

And completely and totally worth it.

Reading Group Guide

Josh Swensen is not your average 17-year-old. At the age of two, he was figuring out algebraic equations with colored magnetic numbers. He is a prodigy who only wants to make the world a better place. Josh’s wish comes true when his virtual alter ego, Larry, becomes a huge media sensation. Larry has his own Web site where he posts sermons on anti-consumerism and has a large following of adults and teens. Meanwhile, Larry’s identity is a mystery to everyone. While it seems as if the whole world is trying to figure out Larry’s true identity, Josh feels trapped inside his own creation. What will happen to the world, and to Larry, if he is exposed?

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The Gospel According to Larry 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a junior at Holt High School and I just completed the book "The Gospel According To Larry". In my opinion, it is a really good and interesting book. It is about a guy named Josh Swensen who is an undercover blogger named Larry. Josh is still in high school and is the smartest guy around. He is the type of person who would rather be alone in peace than with a crowd of people. In my opinion that is because his mom wasn't around anymore. But when the reporter Betagold reveals his identity to everyone, he becomes a hit. The only thing is, he didn't want anyone to know. Especially his best friend Beth. He secretly loves her. He was thinking about telling her multiple times throughout the book that he was Larry, but never got around to it. So when the sermons that he made about Beth related to her, she just thought someone felt the same way as her. Not knowing that Josh was the blogger, she felt the need to express how she felt through a club in school. Soon to come was a Larryfest because so many people liked the sermons he made. Josh Swensen was famous after having his identity revealed. I liked the book because it would always have me guessing what would happen next. Also because it kept me interested. Not a lot of books keep my attention like this one. I really liked the plot of this book because it was in a rural area and there were some woods where it took place. I like nature. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it didn't have any action in it. I would give this book a rating of 4 out of 5. If you like books that keep you guessing, then I would recommend you read this book. If you like books that have a good plot, I would recommend this book to you. If you don't like books that don't have an absolutely amazing ending, I would recommend you not to read this book. If you don't like books that aren't action packed, then this book isn't for you. The author of this book is Janet Tashjian and I would recommend you read any book by her.
ademing More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, this was a great book. It's written in a teenager's point of view so it is easy to relate to. The main character, Josh Swensen, creates his own website "The Gospel According to Larry", him being the alter-ego Larry. On the site he shares his values and opinions about different world issues and thousands of teens and even adults check the site everyday. It soon becomes international, and yet nobody knows Larry's identity, that is until his cover is blown and Josh Swensen, a boy from a small town, must take great risks and hard decisions in order to stay out of the publics eye. Overall I loved this book and its many twists and turns. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a great quick read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Loved this book. There wansn't an obvious messege but the hiddin messege was touching. This intellegent story of Josh (aka larry) would be a great read for any age.
Anonymous 8 months ago
kgudipati on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read 227/277 pages in the book. This book is a biography of a fictitious character named Josh. Josh was sort of a nobody in his high school. He was the kind of genius who wanted to do something to change the world. So for fun Josh created an alter-ego, Larry, and secretly created a website for his perspectives and views of different topics in the world. However, more and more people listened to he sermons, and encouraged his views, so Larry became the most popular website in the world!! In this book, Josh is a senior and a total genius, who is going to go into Princeton to study Philosophy! He really does change his ways throughout the book. At first he thinks it wasn't too bad to post sermons of his views, but later, as his website grew more and more popular, he began to think if it was safe for him. I could kind of relate to Josh, because Josh was a really independent person and so am I. But that's it. The part that I mostly didn't like, was the ending. In the end, Josh just runs away from his neighbor hood, and away from people because he was exposed to the world. I didn't like this part because I thought to myself, why would he let go of his almost perfect future! He would be going to go to one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation, He was able to change the world and follow his dreams! so why just give up? I would recommend this book to readers who love to read high school stories. This is sort of a different kind of high school story, because it isn't about dating or friendship. I think maybe Danielle Radcliffe could play in a movie as Josh.
midnighttwilight101 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What would your life be if you lived like a monk, only kept the possessions you truly needed? This is the plot of The Gospel According to Larry, along with a lot more. Larry decides to start his own website about his philosophies on life and it becomes way more popular than he ever thought it would.
spartyliblover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josh (aka Larry) begins a website where he shares his opinions on the consumer and advertising driven lifestyle in America, and slowly gives clues to his real identity by posting pictures of his 75 possession. As Josh posts as Larry he has to keep his identity secret from his stepfather and best friend Beth. While Josh is a well developed character, and Beth and his stepfather have personalities the majority of the other characters are too minor and are not well developed. The plot is a bit slow at first, but picks up towards the middle of the book and races to the end. This is the first book in a series and would be great for teens who like books about going after the things that you feel passionately about.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josh is easily board and loves a good project. But when a pet project makes it big, it is much more than he bargained for. He starts an anti-consumerism website where he posts sermons under the name of Larry. As Larry's fame grows, so do those who demand that he reveal who is writing these messages including a particularly adamant reader named betagold. Josh preaches about his beliefs while he deals with the death of his mother and pines for his crush who also happens to be his best friend.
wyostitcher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Gospel According to Larry would be a good book to follow Feed since we are entering an era where everyone is going green to save the earth. Larry is against destroying the world for consumerism and will go to great lengths to prove what is happening to us through advertizing. Unfortunately, there is a protagonist, betagold, who wants to expose the truth and show that Larry¿s intent is for profit, if not for himself but for her. Josh is involved and tries to find the answer in discussing his problems with his mother at the makeup counter she visited while alive. He is disappointed that he cannot carry out his plan after Larry¿s true identity is exposed. This novel reads easily and appears in typeset as if a person was tying it on a manual typewriter. I received the recommendation to read this book because it was well accepted by boys who were struggling readers and had few possessions. They enjoyed making lists and thinking about how Larry was going to get out of his bad position. Occasionally throughout the book references are made from the bible to explain what is going on in the book making Larry a guru. It appears this book will be a series of books because one does not really know where Josh is and what will happen to him. The next book is Vote for Larry will fill everyone in on what happened to Larry. What I liked most about the book is that it contains no sex and a few curse words that are not out of place. It would be an easy book for my students to read and understand relating to change in the world towards cleaning up and not polluting the world.
Runa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book when I was much younger--it was, in fact, one of the first YA books I ever read. I was, however, too young to really understand much of what had happened, and although I had a vague recollection of how the book went, over the years, I found that my recollection was significantly off. The concept behind this book is a fascinatingly unique one, but the characterization is pulled off so wonderfully that Josh's situation ends up feeling entirely realistic. It's written in a way that the reader can relate to this utterly unrelatable, unintentionally personable character. While reading this, I realized what a great choice Tashjian had made when she'd chosen the point of view, whether she'd given any thought to it or not. It would have been a different story entirely if told by one of Larry's fans or something. I'm wondering what on earth the sequels could contain, since there are two of those if I'm not mistaken. Everything was tied up so neatly, so I'm hoping the sequels aren't too destructive to the original. I would have liked to have seen more than some vague hints about Beth and others close to Larry at the conclusion, and I hope the sequels elaborate on them. One final thing I noticed that definitely flew past my younger self's attention is the elaborate biblical parallel evident throughout the story--see if you can catch it, it's amazing how well it's interwoven in the story. Great read, I can't wait to hear more from snarky young Larry.Rating: 4/5
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Josh and his best friend (and secret love interest) Beth are obsessed with a mysterious online prophet who calls himself Larry. Little does Beth know that Josh is the mastermind behind the website. When "Larry" explodes in popularity, Josh will find that making a difference in the world isn't as easy as he'd thought. I really, really enjoyed this audiobook. It's expertly narrated by an actor who sounds a little bit like John Green (*swoon*). If it hadn't been a bit overproduced (didn't need those sound effects) and if Janet Tashjian was a more talented narrator for the prologue and epilogue (apologies, Janet; you're a wonderful author, but stay away from the mic), it would have been near perfect. Highly recommended for Nerdfighters everywhere. Just keep listening through the prologue. I swear it gets better quickly.
rabbitrun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny up until the end. I didn't like the ending, but I don't like the endings of many books
bettyjo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nerd gains populartiy by starting a website. He is a great character.
welkinscheek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic! So funny and insightful. Great for readers who question the status quo, and a wonderful audiobook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have this book for a summer reading assingment and I love this book!!! I am almost done with it and I am pretty upset because I want the book to be longer... but overall I love this book and would recommend it to anyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Josh is a bored seventeen-year-old genius. That is just a recipe for disaster!

Just for something to do, he creates a website where he posts all of his rants about our celebrity-obsessed culture, anti-communism, and any other random thing that he thinks of. Josh names his site "The Gospel According To Larry" because that is the most unreligious name he could possibly think of. He's getting two or three hits a day, until some kids from his school find the page and he's soon getting a few hundred visitors a day to his website.

Then Bono, the lead singer of U2, finds Josh's site. And he mentions the site on national television.

Josh instantly begins getting millions of hits a day and everyone wants to know who Larry is.

Then betagold, a fan of Larry's, begins leaving comments on Josh's site about how he should just come out and tell everyone who Larry really is.

As things begin to spin out of control, Josh goes crazy! What will he do to save himself? Will he ever reveal that he's "Larry"?

This is a really funny book, because I can totally imagine something like this actually happening! Sometimes the middle is a little slow, but overall the book is a really great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Josh is a bored seventeen-year-old genius. That is just a recipe for disaster! Just for something to do, he creates a website where he posts all of his rants about our celebrity-obsessed culture, anti- communism, and any other random thing that he thinks of. Josh names his site ¿The Gospel According To Larry¿ because that is the most unreligious name he could possibly think of. He¿s getting two or three hits a day, until some kids from his school find the page and he¿s soon getting a few hundred visitors a day to his website. Then Bono, the lead singer of U2, finds Josh¿s site. And he mentions the site on national television. Josh instantly begins getting millions of hits a day and everyone wants to know who Larry is. Then betagold, a fan of Larry¿s, begins leaving comments on Josh¿s site about how he should just come out and tell everyone who Larry really is. As things begin to spin out of control, Josh goes crazy! What will he do to save himself? Will he ever reveal that he's 'Larry'? This is a really funny book, because I can totally imagine something like this actually happening! Sometimes the middle is a little slow, but overall the book is a really great read! **Reviewed by: Taylor Rector
Guest More than 1 year ago
Josh, an intelligent 17 year old, wants to change the world, help it move forward. He is a private person who creates a site on the internet out of boredom. He shows to other people what he values and what they should value also. His mentor is Thoreau and he tries to follow in the philosophers footsteps. He says, 'why are kids puppets to the Big Brother Corporate America?' His site gets bombarded with people who 'mostly' agree. One person under the sceen name of Betagold puts Josh under pressure to reveal who he is, while she doesn't reveal herself. He achieves his goal-of changing the world- in a way he doesn't like. Eventually, he escapes the ending in creative way, maybe not the best way, but it was his only option.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian is a very good book about a very anti-materialistic boy named Josh Swenson who speaks out to the world over the internet under the alias of ¿Larry¿. He posts sermons on his website for others to read and to comment on. He also speaks his mind and lets everyone know how he feels about materialistic and other such things like communists etc. I think it was a very good thing he was doing, he was letting people hear his thoughts and put there input on it. He was trying to make people realize how your life doesn¿t really need to rely on objects to live. He does tend to run into a problem in this book, someone named betagold is out to get him and will go to any extent to reveal who he really is. She goes from looking for him in a simple place like Larry Fest all the way too tracking his internet service provider, which makes him have to constantly switch. I recommend reading this book, it is definitely a must read for all high school teens. I honestly think it has to be the best book I have read in a long time, well worth the little bit of time it takes to read it. I would give this book a 4/5 nothing less, maybe even a 5. The book definitely made me think, and taught me that we don¿t need to live a materialistic life, to live a good one. I would also recommend this book to anyone the age of 14+ I think almost anyone above the age of 14 would find this to be very interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Gospel According to Larry is a well written novel about a boy, Josh. Josh is your average highschooler except for one thing. No one knows that he is behind the largest online movement in the history of the internet. But little does he know there is someone trying to find his true identity. This book is pretty good. It¿s based on a true story. I recommend it for anyone wanting a good book that is not a slow and boring read.