For my “book from your hometown” 2016 book challenge, I had to fudge a bit and go with my home state. Last year, I read Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now for a book of the same category, so I thought I would stick with him again this year. I liked The Spectacular Now a little bit. The main character just isn’t the best guy, even though, he is trying, but even though he is given the opportunity to change and grow and evolve, he doesn’t. I rarely see a main character in a young adult novel who doesn’t learn anything at all. But, I was willing to give Tharp another try.
I disliked this book even more, though. The main character is a good kid who is the star of the football team, but longs for something more. He realizes football and popularity isn’t all that meaningful. He meets an unpopular girl who sees him for who he really is. This is just about the same plot as The Spectacular Now. The only difference is the main character in this book has awful grammar. So awful that I could barely read this book because it was so distracting. And books with bad grammar are my pet peeve. I understand giving characters voice and authenticity. However, a “dumb jock” from small town Oklahoma with bad grammar is just a stereotype that does not need to be perpetuated. When kids read books like this, do they really need bad grammar reinforced? Do we really have to keep making kids dumb (as the main character saw himself) to make them relatable?
Even though this book was short, I could only read it in short spurts because the grammar was so hard to get through. I eventually skimmed a good chunk of it just to get the plot points. Maybe I’m being too hard on the author, or expecting too much, but I just don’t think we need to expose kids to improper grammar more than they already get from society.