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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

Title: My Most Excellent Year
Author: Steve Kluger
Format Acquired: Paperback
Publication Date: March 13, 2008
Publishing House: Dial
ISBN: 9780803732278
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


"That was my life until ninth grade, my most excellent year. And then I got drop-kicked by a six-year-old kid and the girl of my dreams."

There are only three great loves in T.C. Keller's life: the Red Sox, his father, and his best friend and unofficial "brother" Augie. But ninth grade is the year when he falls head-over-cleats in love with Ale Perez. She's pretty, sassy, smart, and a great dancer. Ale is so busying playing hard to get that she doesn't realize that she just might be falling head-over-tap shoes for T.C.'s Boston accent, too. Meanwhile, T.C.'s best friend, Augie, is falling in love as well, but with a boy? It may not be so clear to him; but to the rest of his family and friend, it's totally obvious that Augie, who loves musicals and old school screen sirens such as Judy Garland, is head-over-heels in love with Andy Wexler.

Told in alternating perspectives, this is the story of their most excellent year, where these three friends discover themselves, love, and that a little magic and Mary Poppins can go a long way.
          (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


T.C. Keller is a goner for Ale Perez, the only girl who doesn't seem to be interested in him. Being the daughter of the Mexican ambassador, Ale has mastered the art of keeping her real emotions and feelings inside, but not without a bit of the snark she's so good at. When Augie enlists the help of Ale for a production, it doesn't take long before Ale is thrust into a world where she slowly lets love, life, theatre (and baseball?!) into her life.

My Most Excellent Year is definitely a refreshing book filled with animated characters. Is it a bad thing when the only complaint you could come up with these people is that they're too annoyingly perfect? Heck, even I can't help but be charmed by the adults in the book! If I could name a book that made me want to pinch everyone's cheeks, this would undoubtedly be it. Aside from the expert handling with small-scale issues, My Most Excellent Year also encourages its readers to take charge of what they want instead of what society dictates.

However, I couldn't let some parts of it go. T.C. and his friends live in such a perfect and accepting world that I couldn't help but be a little concerned. Everybody gets along and everyone is accepted for who he/she is. Of course, this is not a bad thing. Kluger creates a world so free from racist and anti-gay slurs it would make any reader envious. t's just that I found the whole thing a bit hard to swallow. The fact that most of the parents depicted in this book can actually - GASP! - understand their kids pretty well was a bit unnerving as well. When Ale was being dragged to belong into their group, the novel pretty much made me feel like it was a huge song and dance number where everyone is guaranteed a happy ending. Another thing that I had a hard time believing was the fact that everyone didn't really seem to act their age. Since the whole novel basically uses letters and journals to tell its story, I had a hard time taking into account the actual age of the people who "wrote" them. I didn't exactly feel like T.C. and his crew were teenagers. I honestly thought that they were middle schoolers all throughout the novel, despite the journals labeling the age transitions.

Since I know zilch about baseball - and almost any other sport, save for tennis - I wasn't particularly enthused about the fact that it plays a big part in the actual story. But if you find yourself looking for a cute, fluffy contemporary read with funny and annoyingly cute characters, you might want to give My Most Excellent Year a go.