My Most Excellent Year - Steve Kluger
Publisher: Dial Books
Age Level: 12+
Reader’s Annotation: Do you think your life is confusing? Meet Augie, who loves his best friend T.C. like a brother, obsesses over the perfect Alejandra and has to somehow manage to get a deaf kid to come out of his shell by meeting Mary Poppins.
Summary: Told in three alternating voices, comically likable T.C., theatrical Augie and classic overachiever Alejandra, this tale about growing up in Boston packs a punch from the first page. T.C. and Augie, brought up more like brothers than friends, share their lives with their strange mixture of family: T.C.’s dad and Augie’s parents. Enter Alejandra, the first girl whom T.C. actually wants to impress, and who is totally unimpressed with him. Throughout their junior year, all three characters find themselves growing beyond what is expected of them. For T.C. that means taking up the care of a deaf foster child with a desperate belief in Mary Poppins. Alejandra realizes her potential on the stage, and away from her parent’s political beliefs. And Augie realizes that he is gay.
Evaluation: Though obviously different than the Traveling Pants series by Brashares this novel shares the same hope and joy of that quartet. Readers follow the plots twists and turns with attention to the characters that they have grown to love. On a side note, it is truly refreshing to see a male gay character and his best friend depicted without any undertones that detract from the relationship.
Booktalk Ideas: How far would you be willing to go for your friends?
Challenges: homosexual character
Selection: I admit I was drawn in by the cover. Clean, clever and unique – the cover attracts readers.